Thailand will receive its first foreign vacationers when a flight from China arrives next week, marking the gradual restart of a vital tourism sector battered by coronavirus travel curbs, a senior official said on Tuesday, APA reports citing Reuters.
The first flight will have about 120 tourists from Guangzhou, flying directly to the resort island of Phuket, Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn told Reuters.
Thailand has kept coronavirus infections low with just 3,559 cases and 59 deaths, but its economy has taken a hit from a ban on foreign visitors since April and is expected to contract 8.5% this year.
Government spokeswoman Traisulee Traisoranakul expects 1,200 tourists in the first month, generating about 1 billion baht ($31.55 million) in revenue and 12.4 billion baht over one year, drawing in 14,400 tourists.
Nationalities permitted to enter will be from countries deemed low risk by the government, which will keep tabs on them.
“We are not opening the country, we are limiting the number of entries and will manage with wrist bands, apps to follow them,” Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters.
The government predicts just 6.7 million foreign visitors this year after a record 39.8 million in 2019, whose spending made up about 11.4% of GDP, or 1.93 trillion baht.