Thailand needs to attract foreign tourists back and have a welcoming system of disease control in place, so local people can start earning money again, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Wednesday.
The return of foreign visitors would begin with only a limited number of arrivals, to test the country's disease control measures, which would be comprehensive, he said.
He sought to allay concerns that tourists coud bring with them a new wave of coronavirus disease. Gen Prayut said the government would not let visitors arrive as they pleased.
"There will be forms to fill in. Flights must be traceable. When they reach their destinations their whereabouts will have to be confirmed and they will be isolated from others," the prime minister said.
Gen Prayut said the return of tourists was essential for the country.
"If nothing is done, things will get worse. Premises will be shut down. Employees will be laid off. How can the government afford to help them all?" he said.
He gave an assurance that visitors would be monitored, and said he hoped that local people would welcome them back.
"Local people must take care (of the visitors) because the benefits will go to them, not the government," Gen Prayut said.
"Please rest assured that if (the disease) is detected, we will be able to contain it," he said.
The prime minister said officials were drafting procedures for handling arriving tourists and considering which would be the first destination to receive them.
The biggest economic impact has been on the provinces that used to get a large number of foreign tourists, he said.
The prime minister did not say how tourists would be persuaded to come here.