Thailand hopes to welcomes 5 million foreign visitors in 2021 hinh anh 1The Tourism and Sports Ministry estimates international arrivals to Thailand could reach 5 million during 2021. (Photo: Bangkok Post)
Bangkok (VNA) -  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, according to the country's Tourism and Sports Ministry.

"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 ministry urged the prime minister to allocate 5 million doses for this group, covering 2.5 million people total.

Such a vaccination programme would provide protection for local workers who are in contact with foreign visitors on a daily basis, he said.

The Ministry of Public Health is working on the vaccine passport framework, which may be operated either via an application or smart card, he said, adding once this scheme is ready, tourists around the world holding a certificate of COVID-19 inoculation could enter the country.

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./.