Hanoi (VNA) - Thailand welcomed first 1,201 foreign tourists in October since a ban in April aimed at averting coronavirus outbreaks, as the country gradually opens up to a select number of visitors.

The figure was just a fraction of the 3.07 million arrivals in the same month last year.

According to the Tourism Ministry, the latest visitors included 471 from China, 231 from neighbouring Cambodia, 178 from Middle East countries and 116 from Europe, all travelling on special 90-day visas that require two weeks of quarantine.

In January-October 2020, the number of foreign tourists in Thailand dropped 79.5 percent to 6.69 million. No tourists were seen between April and September.

But the country has yet to agree any such arrangements and previous plans were abandoned in August after coronavirus cases in Asia increased.

New outbreaks have seen several other travel bubbles between Asia-Pacific countries aborted or fail to take off, including between New Zealand and Australia, and Hong Kong and Singapore.

In the third quarter of 2020, the Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy contracted 6.4 percent from a year earlier after the second quarter’s 12.1 percent slump as most virus restrictions were eased, but an absence of tourists is limiting the recovery.

The country is forecast to receive 6.7 million foreign tourists this year after last year’s revised record 39.9 million visitors who spent 1.91 trillion baht (63 billion USD), or about 11.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

It predicts only 5 million foreign visitors in 2021./.