* Deputy PM: govt to ensure enough vaccines
* Tougher virus restriction have been eased
* Just 100,000 foreign tourists expected this year
* Private investment applications greater than 2020 (Adds detail, tourism forecasts)
BANGKOK, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Thailand’s economy should improve further in the final quarter of this year thanks to government support measures and September’s relaxation of coronavirus curbs to spur activity, a deputy prime minister said on Thursday.
The government will ensure the supply of COVID-19 vaccines is boosted to support the recovery, said Supattanapong Punmeechaow, deputy prime minister in charge of economic matters.
Economic activity has improved after the relaxation of restrictions imposed in July and August, while exports have also increased, he said, adding the lockdown had hit the third quarter.
The government’s fiscal position remains strong with funds available for more measures, Supattanapong said.
Private investment applications of 450 billion baht ($13.3 billion) in January-August, already more than double last year’s figures, are also a good sign, he said.
The central bank predicts economic growth here of 0.7% this year and 3.9% for 2022. The economy contracted 6.1% last year with the key tourism sector battered by the pandemic.
Earlier this week Supattapong said the government aimed for growth of about 5% in 2022, as Thailand will soon reopen to more foreign visitors.
The “Land of Smiles” is expected to welcome only 100,000 foreign visitors this year, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor Yuthasak Supasorn said, a fraction of the nearly 40 million arrivals in 2019, who spent 1.91 trillion baht.
Local tourism generated 1.1 trillion baht last year.
Next year, the government aims for both domestic and foreign tourism revenue of 1.49 trillion baht, Yuthasak said, without giving a 2022 forecast for foreign tourist numbers.
Thailand’s strict visa and quarantine requirements during the pandemic have until recently deterred foreign tourists.
The quarantine period was last week reduced, however, and will from next month be waived for more vaccinated visitors, expanding a pilot scheme in place on Phuket and Samui islands.
$1 = 33.78 baht Additional reporting by Kitiphong Thaichareon; Editing by Martin Petty
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