BANGKOK - Tourism-reliant Thailand expects about three million foreign tourist arrivals this year, tied to a phased reopening to vaccinated visitors later this year, the state tourism agency said on Wednesday.
The target is lower than the four million tourists projected by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in April, when the country's biggest coronavirus outbreak so far emerged.
The Southeast Asian country, which launched its mass vaccination campaign on Monday, will allow inoculated foreign tourists to visit Phuket island without a quarantine next month in a pilot scheme before reopening nine other provinces in October, after a year of tight entry restrictions.
Most of the three million arrivals are expected in the final quarter, with spending estimated at between 240 billion baht to 300 billion baht ($7.7 billion to $9.6 billion), Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, deputy governor of the TAT, told Reuters.
Thailand usually attracts three million to four million foreign tourists per month in the fourth quarter, and "we want only a third of that," he said.
About 129,000 visitors are expected in the third quarter, he said. Thailand had just 28,701 arrivals in January-April.
For 2022, the TAT expects 20 million foreign arrivals to spend 1.3 trillion baht, Siripakorn said.
That compares with 40 million in 2019, when tourists spent 1.91 trillion baht. ($1 = 31.15 baht)
(Reporting by Satawasin Staporncharnchai Writing by Orathai Sriring Editing by Ed Davies) ((firstname.lastname@example.org; +662 0802309;))