Bangkok (VNA) - The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) wants to establish Thailand as the first country to welcome cryptocurrency holders by targeting Japanese tourists in the initial phase.

Though the agency downgraded its target for foreign tourist arrivals this year, it sees tourism during the post-pandemic era as emphasising quality and creativity, leading to its plan to add new segments with high spending.

According to Dalia Research in 2018, 11 percent of Japanese own cryptocurrencies, higher than the global average of 7 percent, followed by Germany and the US at 9 percent.

Earlier, the country's Tourism and Sports Ministry held that it is feasible Thailand could receive 5 million international arrivals this year, half the original forecast of 10 million, as the pandemic continues to ravage the tourism industry worldwide.

"If we can attract 5 million tourists this year under the current circumstances, that would be a success," said Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, the Tourism and Sports Minister.

To reach 10 million arrivals, a significant number of conditions would have to be met in both Thailand and origin countries for tourists, he said.

As mass vaccinations are being rolled out worldwide, including in Thailand, the Tourism and Sports Ministry plans to hold discussions with the prime minister and the Public Health Ministry about the possibility of including tourism workers in the early stages of the vaccination programme.

Thailand is scheduled to administer vaccines to high-risk members of the population starting in February. Phiphat said people employed in the tourism industry such as hotel staff, drivers and workers at restaurants and spas based in major tourism destinations should be among the first groups to receive vaccinations.

The Thai tourism was hit hard by COVID-19. The country welcomed only 6.7 million foreign tourists in 2020 as compared to 39.9 million recorded in 2019, and the number of visitors is said to fall to 5 million in 2021, with tourists’ spending decreasing to 260 billion THB (8.67 billion USD) in 2021 from 1.91 trillion THB in 2019./.