Thailand sees the primary trickle of vacationers in October because the curbs change into lighter

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Man walks on almost empty beach in Pattaya

From Orathai Sriring

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand recorded its first 1,201 overseas tourists in October since a ban in April to stave off coronavirus outbreaks as the country gradually opens up to a select number of visitors to help its troubled, tourism-dependent economy .

Southeast Asia’s second largest economy contracted 6.4% year over year in the third quarter after slumping 12.1% in the second quarter as most virus restrictions were eased but the absence of tourists limited recovery.

The 1,201 foreign visitors in October are a fraction of the 3.07 million arrivals in the same month last year.

Tourism ministry data showed that recent visitors included 471 from China, 231 from neighboring Cambodia, 178 from Middle Eastern countries, and 116 from Europe, all of whom are traveling on special 90-day visas that require a two-week quarantine .

Thailand’s entry restrictions have helped keep the number of coronaviruses below 4,000.

Talks with China on a travel bubble are slated to resume to stimulate an economy that the government predicts will shrink 6% this year.

The country has yet to reach an agreement on such arrangements, however, and previous plans were abandoned in August after coronavirus cases increased in Asia.

In recent outbreaks, several other travel bubbles between countries in the Asia-Pacific region have been canceled or not started, including between New Zealand and Australia and Hong Kong and Singapore.

From January to October 2020, the number of foreign tourists in Thailand decreased by 79.5% to 6.69 million – from April to September no tourists were registered.

The state planning agency has forecast 6.7 million foreign tourists for this year after a record 39.9 million visitors last year, which is 1.91 trillion baht ($ 63 billion) or about 11.3% of the Gross domestic product (GDP).

Only 5 million foreign visitors are forecast in 2021.

GRAPHIC: Thailand’s foreign tourists – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/yxmvjbbrlvr/Pasted%20image%201600922793092.png

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