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Foreigners to be allowed in, ’Travel bubbles’ tipped for approval

Foreigners to be allowed in, ’Travel bubbles’ tipped for approval

BANGKOK: One thousand foreign visitors are expected to be allowed entry to Thailand per day and the standard 14-day COVID-19 quarantine rule will be waived, according to an implementation plan for “travel bubbles” to be submitted for the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA)’s approval on Wednesday (June 17).

COVID-19healthtourismeconomics
By Bangkok Post

Monday 15 June 2020, 08:46AM


An expressway interchange, photographed from Baiyoke Tower II Sunday night, shows light traffic. Busy traffic is set to return after the night-time curfew was lifted from 11pm Sunday. The lifting of the curfew was published in the ’Royal Gazette’. Photo: Arnun Chonmahatrakool / Bangkok Post

An expressway interchange, photographed from Baiyoke Tower II Sunday night, shows light traffic. Busy traffic is set to return after the night-time curfew was lifted from 11pm Sunday. The lifting of the curfew was published in the ’Royal Gazette’. Photo: Arnun Chonmahatrakool / Bangkok Post

These visitors, who in the beginning will be mostly business people and patients seeking medical treatment in Thailand, must come as part of bilateral cooperation on tourism between Thailand and selected countries which have managed to contain the coronavirus, Traisuree Taisaranakul, deputy government spokeswoman, said on Sunday, reports the Bangkok Post.

General foreign tourists will later be allowed to visit Thailand if the tourism promotion programme proves successful in terms of the transmission control, she said.

COVID-19 screening tests will be required both before the visitors leave their countries and upon arriving in Thailand, she said.

This, however, doesn’t mean the visitors will be able to travel freely while in Thailand as they will still be prohibited from visiting certain parts of the country and will be tracked via a smart phone application, she said.

Final details of the programme are being discussed by the Tourism and Sports Ministry, Public Health Ministry, Interior Ministry and Foreign Ministry.

The CCSA had on Friday agreed in principle on the travel bubbles proposal despite objections raised by security authorities.

The travel bubbles programme is seen by the Tourism and Sports Ministry as the first step to safely reopen Thailand’s tourism to international visitors, she said. It is hoped to help accelerate a recovery from the economic impact of the pandemic on tourism, she said.

Despite the CCSA’s preliminary approval on the travel bubble proposal, security authorities had expressed strong objections to the idea at Friday’s meeting, a source said.

They asked that the proposal be put on hold because it isn’t certain the tourism promotion programme won’t lead to a new spike of imported COVID-19 infections and possibly a new wave of local transmissions, the source said.

Worse still, giving privilege to these specific foreign visitors while still imposing the 14-day quarantine on Thai nationals being repatriated will likely prompt negative reaction by those Thais, the source said.

The source said the programme may not be welcomed by communities in Thailand’s tourist destinations that are being urged by the government to strictly maintain health measures to stay free of new COVID-19 cases. It is not known if special preparations will be needed in places likely to be popular with foreign tourists.

According to a recent online survey on public opinion about the government’s reopening policy, most Thais were concerned about the possibility of Thailand reopening the country too soon to international visitors.

A slight majority (54.39%) of all 1,116 respondents asked in the survey by Suan Dusit Poll, conducted on Jun 9-12, said it still wasn’t time to invite international tourists back to Thailand.

But only 24.28% of them thought tourists should be welcomed back now for the sake of boosting the economy.

Most of the poll respondents also thought strict limits on the number of local tourists should be maintained at every tourist attraction across the country while domestic tourism activities resume, said the poll.

The top destination found in this survey was Chiang Mai and most respondents (41.40%) expected Thailand’s tourism to fully recover in about a year.

Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said on Friday the ministry has prepared three stimulus packages valued at B20 billion to kick start the tourism sector from next month until October.

Meanwhile, Narongchai Khunpluem, mayor of Saen Suk municipality in Chon Buri’s Muang district, said those who continue to flout the ban on drinking alcohol on the beach will now face a fine after previous warnings have fallen on deaf ears.

“There they did it again, drinking alcohol on the beaches despite all these warnings. So they deserve to be fined, don’t they?” the mayor wrote on his Facebook page.

 

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CaptainJack69 | 16 June 2020 - 13:24:30

I'm sure the "security authorities" would prefer to see no foreigners at all, but this IS a terrible idea. Talk about setting a bad precedent. Tracking every foreigners' phone?! Remember a few years ago they tried to force all tourists to use special SIM cards that allowed the gov. to track them. Remember how that went down? Anyone concerned about security of private data? In Tha...

Kurt | 16 June 2020 - 10:45:34

....Health-, time-, and money saving. Tourism?: Countries did repatriation flights last few month. Covid-19 was a new thing. Now Governments warn their citizens: "if you go this holiday season abroad , it is at your own risk. No more government help for repatriation, you know now you can run into Covid-19 trouble by flying, etc. No need to worry to be overrunned by tourists.

Kurt | 16 June 2020 - 10:36:18

Forget about business people. Business trips are not fun. They come here only on a 4 day trip. That stops now due to all the hustle and bustle with loosing time with all that testing, chance on being infected/quarantined. To risky. Business people are now already so used to video conferencing and all cyber possibilities that it becomes a part of the 'NEW NORMAL'. Health-, time-, and money ...

GerryT81 | 15 June 2020 - 18:16:46

OMG, is this the best idea they come up with ? What a bulls...!

Kurt | 15 June 2020 - 13:58:07

In International Press: Enormous new Covid-19 outbreak in Beijing. Many districts with millions of people in lock down again. Two of the districts are Fengtai and Haidian. It all re-started again on gigantic markets. So, no Chinese tourists in the upcoming 'bubbles-train' to Thailand, please.

LALALA | 15 June 2020 - 11:51:34

It should be all warning to everybody that someone who worked in LOS for nearly 30 years can not afford to go back to his home country...my advise to everybody is simple: stay away from LOS..it is obviously not worth to come here.

Kurt | 15 June 2020 - 11:20:07

So, a lot of hard work is waiting Government Officials.
1: To decide which countries to enter the bubbles program. 2: To iron the difference in treatment between arriving Thai ( quarantine en foreirgners ( no quarantine). 3: Try to sell tourist that permanent tracking and 'forbidden thai areas'.  A lot of doings just for 1000 foreign arrivals per day. Hopefully not from China without quar...

DeKaaskopp | 15 June 2020 - 10:55:29

@Galong   After 30 years of working you can't afford to go back to your homeland ?  Wow,quite a successful  career. No wonder you feel so unhappy. L  L  L !

LALALA | 15 June 2020 - 10:45:26

Tommy...that is exactly what it is...why even business people should come to LOS under this circumstances... they can do all per video con calls. It is simply not worth the hassle. Thainess at its best...stupidity rules this country.

Galong | 15 June 2020 - 10:20:11

After almost 30 years of living and working in Thailand, I'm finally to the point where I regret my decision to move here. It's no longer enchanting and I no longer feel welcomed. I can't really afford to go back to my homeland or I probably would. 

Little Tommy Tucker | 15 June 2020 - 10:16:11

Yep, international tourists are going to rush to Thailand, firstly they'll have to be screened (tested) for Covid-19 in their home country, then, once being tested as negative, i.e not having Covid-19, they will be tested upon arrival, just in case they caught it on the plane. Then, once here they will be tracked, i.e they'll have to download an app that will track their every movement.

LALALA | 15 June 2020 - 09:05:44

Good news. Scheduled Flights in means flights scheduled flights out. That is the only thing I am looking for.

 

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