A man rides an escalator outside what was once a busy shopping mall in Bangkok on May 17, 2021, as Thailand's economy shrank in the first quarter, official data showed Monday, battered by coronavirus restrictions. Photo: AFP/Jack Taylor

Thailand’s economy shrank in the first quarter, official data showed Monday, as it was battered by coronavirus restrictions that have hit the key tourism sector hard.

The kingdom last year suffered its worst full-year performance since the Asian financial crisis of 1997 with a 6.1% contraction.

The Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) said gross domestic product shrank 2.6% on-year in the first three months.

The NESDC also gave a cool forecast for the recovery, cutting its 2021 growth outlook to 1.5-2.5%, from its previous estimate of 2.5-3.5%.

With tight travel restrictions already reducing the usual flow of foreign visitors to a trickle, Thailand has been hit by a third coronavirus wave, triggering fresh curbs on economic activity.

Thailand has recorded just over 111,000 covid infections, the vast majority since the start of the latest surge in infections, which began in April.

Officials reported 9,635 new cases on Monday – the highest for a single day – driven by more than 6,800 infections in prisons.

AFP