This January 11, 2021 illustration shows a vial and sryinge in front of a displayed Pfizer logo. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / illustration

Thailand plans to waive mandatory quarantine for vaccinated visitors to its capital Bangkok and major tourist destinations from October, an official said on Friday in an attempt to revive a key industry ravaged by coronavirus travel edges.

The new measure means easier access to hotspots such as Pattaya, Phang Nga, Koh Samui, Krabi and the capital Bangkok, said deputy government spokeswoman Traisulee Traisoranakul among 10 provinces that will welcome tourists with proof of vaccination against COVID-19 from October 1 .

Thailand has tightened visa procedures for a year, urging all visitors and returning residents to undergo 14-day quarantine in government-approved facilities.

The announcement comes as the holiday island of Phuket prepares to open its doors to vaccinated travelers as part of a pilot in July. It tries to vaccinate most of its residents before reopening and before mass vaccination begins in the rest of Thailand.

Tourism is an important source of income and employment for Thailand. In 2019, it had a record 39.9 million visitors who spent 1.91 trillion baht ($ 61.32 billion).

Compared to 6.7 million arrivals last year.

The new plan could attract 3.5 million tourists this year and generate 298 billion baht ($ 9.58 billion) in revenue, Traisulee said in a statement, adding that at least 70% of residents in each of the 10 provinces are first need to be vaccinated.

Thailand had seen minor outbreaks until last month and has been slow in sourcing and administering COVID-19 vaccines, with only 1.6 million doses used to date.

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirankul said Friday he was expecting 10 to 20 million doses of the Pfizer (PFE.N) Vaccine should be available in the second half of the year.

The rush to secure vaccines comes after Thailand was hit by its largest ever outbreak earlier last month, in which the total number of cases more than doubled and deaths more than tripled.

($ 1 = 31,1100 Baht)

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