Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Wednesday set the goal of fully reopening the country to foreign visitors within 120 days to pave the way for economic recovery, despite worries over the risk of new coronavirus infections.

In his televised remarks, Prayut said the country is to begin welcoming fully vaccinated foreign tourists, starting with the southern resort island of Phuket in early July and followed by a full opening by mid-October.

Thai tourists and elephant trainers wear face masks and shields as they ride elephants at the Ayutthaya Elephant Palace and Royal Kraal on June 6, 2020 in Ayutthaya, Thailand. (Getty/Kyodo)  

This is mainly for reducing the enormous suffering of the many tourism-reliant Thais who have lost their ability to earn an income, he said.

"I know this decision comes with some risk because when we open the country, there will be an increase in infections, no matter how good our precautions," he said.

"But when we take into consideration the economic needs of people, the time has now come for us to take that calculated risk."

To achieve the four-month goal, the prime minister has instructed all government units, including provincial governors, to make necessary preparations.

He added that under the country's inoculation plan to create herd immunity, almost 50 million people will have had at least their first shots administered by early October.

To date, Thailand has signed reservation and supply contracts for 105.5 million vaccine doses to be delivered this year.

Thailand has reported 205,595 coronavirus cases so far, with 1,525 fatalities.