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‘Reopen now or face collapse’

‘Reopen now or face collapse’

THAILAND: Pailin Chuchottaworn, head of a panel steering the economic recovery, yesterday (Oct 5) urged the government to reopen the country in order to prevent it from collapsing.

By Bangkok Post

Tuesday 6 October 2020, 08:54AM

Local tourists at Suvarnabhumi airport in Samut Prakan province. Photo: Dusida Worrachaddejchai.

Local tourists at Suvarnabhumi airport in Samut Prakan province. Photo: Dusida Worrachaddejchai.

He said that despite the lockdown having been gradually eased six times, the country’s output would not improve unless the country reopens, albeit with precautionary measures.

This year’s annual GDP is predicted to fall to minus 8-10%, equating to the country losing B1.5-1.7 trillion in a single year, Mr Pailin warned.

He said that although the government had spent some time preparing to reopen the country to foreign tourists under the Special Tourist Visa (STV) scheme, Thailand is effectively closed.

If Thailand could not find a way to reopen its borders for the upcoming high season in the fourth and final quarter of this year, the STV scheme may have to be scrapped, he said.

“Currently, tourism is an important priority,” Mr Pailin stressed.

“If the country does not reopen, it will be hard for GDP to grow because the country’s economy depends mainly on the tourism industry and exports.”

He went on to say that the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) had done well in controlling the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic but maintaining zero cases of local transmissions by keeping the country closed had come at the expense of the economy.

The fourth-quarter season was vital and airlines needed to make their flight schedules in advance, Mr Pailin said.

If no steps were taken soon to reopen Thailand during the peak season, there would be no time to schedule incoming flights and if it reopened any time after that, it would be too late.

Mr Pailin also lamented the number of requirements for foreign travellers to enter Thailand.

For example, they not only needed to show they had tested negative for COVID-19, but the test also needed to be taken 72 hours prior to travel. They must also have a medically trained escort with them, though it is unclear where they will find such people.

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Those foreigners also had to undergo another test upon arrival and yet more while in quarantine, he said. Mr Pailin added that the 72-hour requirement also made it impossible to travel on Monday because Saturdays and Sundays were non-working days.

The Tourism and Sports Ministry previously vowed to bring in 1,200 long-stay travellers this month despite a delay in enabling the first batch of tourists under the STV scheme.

Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn earlier said the first two STV groups from China had been pencilled in for this Thursday but as the ministry still needed to settle some entry processes, those itineraries had to be rescheduled until later this month.

After the cabinet approved the STV on Sept 15, the scheme was endorsed upon announcement in the Royal Gazette on Sept 29.

But since the STV is a new type of visa, the authorities have required more time to ensure the process runs smoothly at travellers’ departure locations.

Mr Phiphat insisted the delay would not upset the plan, under which Thailand is set to welcome at least 1,200 tourists, and that the ministry would monitor the scheme for 30 days before deciding when to proceed with the next step: reducing the quarantine period to seven days.

Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said yesterday that after the STV scheme is approved for long-stay tourists, the next step will be for the government to allow in foreign businessmen interested in investing in Thailand as they have the potential to spur the country’s economic growth.

Mr Anucha said state agencies would propose measures to a meeting of a panel easing COVID-19 restrictions headed by the secretary-general of the National Security Council.

Mr Anucha added that so far the CCSA had allowed in about 11,000 foreign businessmen and those with work permits and they had been willing to stay at alternative state quarantine facilities for 14 days.

Thailand yesterday recorded five new COVID-19 cases, one of them a Thai national. The new cases recently arrived in the kingdom from India, Bahrain, Malaysia and Japan.

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maverick | 08 October 2020 - 16:07:42

A forced devaluation of the Baht will incur the wrath of the US for currency manipulation it is underpinned by a B300 billion current account surplus 

wagsthedog | 08 October 2020 - 09:25:40

the 14 days is discouraging. Probably the main issue for people travelling are 2 things: health and money. Health, why would you travel inside a plane for 8 hours without a vaccine being available. Money: many people have been furloughed and used up the annual leave allocation, many people will be more concerned about their future. Travel to Thailand? at least 18 months?

Kurt | 08 October 2020 - 02:20:48

Guess the THB has a established position in the international validating money belt.  ( exchange rate wise). As long the international exchange markets not pressurize the THB, that long it keeps present value. Very simple. The financial reserves of Thailand are enormous, kept well away from own people for reasons of national security. Keep the country calm.

Chas | 07 October 2020 - 21:28:12

I suppose devaluing the Baht to attract foreign visitors and their money is out of the question.

Just sayin'.

Kurt | 07 October 2020 - 12:21:25

Thai Government dictates a quarantine period for incoming Thai and foreigners, which is reasonable. But than the Thai Government should also dictate the ASQL hotel rates. Not giving these hotels the chance to take advantage of foreign tourists. By the way, where are the from abroad arriving Thai places in quarantine? They not have hundred of thousands THB for quarantine.

Kurt | 07 October 2020 - 12:12:15

Thailand face a collapse when it not reopens? So far Thailand was spoilt. What ever they did regimental/dictating, the tourist wallet kept coming. These easy times are over. Thailand has to improve image, service, traffic safety, ridiculous price levels, dual price/fast immigration line scamming, etc. If tourism is a real  'life line' for Thailand, than not only in words.

Bdawg467 | 07 October 2020 - 09:16:06

So now you have to have a medically trained person travelling with you???  How ridiculous is that??  Why not just come out and say we don't want any tourists in Thailand.  Thailand might be past the point of no return as far as recovery is concerned.  But at least the government feels everyone's pain!!!

Foot | 06 October 2020 - 14:29:54

Some think tourists would return in big numbers, if allowed.  Why?
They haven't the money, have better places to go, everything is closed, and are afraid.  
Thailand needs to understand that the experience they once offered is gone.  Maybe forever.    

Sandbar | 06 October 2020 - 13:39:43

Instead of opening up the whole of the country which is an enormous risk. It would safer to choose a number of designated and favored holiday locations and cap the numbers of tourists but centralise areas where tourists can enjoy the spoils of Thailand but at the same time can be monitored and controlled?

Kurt | 06 October 2020 - 12:50:24

The regimental rules of Thailand  'against' welcoming foreign tourists work contra productive. Simple. That 72 hr health paper rule is ridiculous. Loose any validity once boarded a flight to Thailand. Flying only with THAI Airways charter? From where? How much ticket price? And so on. Makes potential tourists saying.. 'Forget it, Thailand'..

LALALA | 06 October 2020 - 10:06:27

Too late..its already colllapsed..LOL. Only another comment from a powerless official puppet making a facesaving statement instead of taking action when it was due. Thainess at its best.


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