The expected resumption of the Test & Go tourism scheme in February should allow the country to attract at least 8 million tourists this year, says the Tourism and Sports Ministry.
Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said his ministry plans to push for the resumption of the quarantine-free Test & Go scheme next month as this proposal is scheduled for discussion at the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration meeting on Jan 20.
He said the public should be confident about the country reopening to vaccinated tourists because the Public Health Ministry is capable of containing an outbreak, as the number of new infections stabilised at 7,000-8,000 for 14 days after the New Year holiday.
Moreover, the number of patients with severe symptoms remains low, with the fatality rate at only 10-20 per day.
Concerns about the severity of the Omicron variant remain have tempered, said Mr Phiphat.
He said each major tourism province has to prepare hotel isolation for asymptomatic tourists who test positive, while tourists have to undergo two RT-PCR tests.
"Tourism is the engine that can revive the overall economy the fastest. It is important to resume travel activities, which have slowed since the suspension of the Test & Go scheme," Mr Phiphat said.
He said tourism might generate nearly 1.3 trillion baht this year, with the domestic market contributing around 160 million trips and 800 billion baht in revenue.
Mr Phiphat said while 5-15 million international arrivals is the target this year, 8 million appears the most likely, generating 480 billion baht.
The resumption of Test & Go in February still allows enough time to reach 8 million arrivals this year, he said.
Mr Phiphat said there are potential markets that can support the tourism industry via four different growth scenarios.
The country will receive 5 million tourists if visitors arrive from the UK, Europe, Japan and South Korea, he said.
The figure can grow to 7 million if tourists from India and Russia can visit Thailand, or 9 million if Chinese arrivals are allowed.
Arrivals could reach 15 million with full resumption of cross-border tourism with neighbouring countries, said Mr Phiphat.
China, Thailand's biggest source market, has to open its borders at some point for inbound tourists to support economic growth, he said.