Thailand pushes ahead with reopening plans
With tourism a key contributor to Thailand’s economy, the government is pushing ahead with plans to allow more tourists back into the country.
The new Alternative State Quarantine scheme, for example, will allow short-term tourists to travel to designated areas in some Thai provinces, provided they come from countries with low risk of COVID-19 and no local infections in the last three months, said Thares Krassanairawiwong, head of Thailand’s health service support department.
Tourists must also stay in home quarantine for 14 days before leaving for Thailand and test negative for COVID-19 three days before departure. When in Thailand, they will be required to use tracking devices, and be accompanied by representatives of COVID-19 response agencies at all times.
While the scheme must be approved by local residents before being introduced, provinces such as Chon Buri, Buri Ram, Rayong, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phuket and Surat Thani have also expressed interest in the plan, according to Krassanairawiwong.
In the first quarter of 2020, the tourism industry contributed around 539.2 billion baht (US$17.3 billion) to Thailand’s GDP. In the same period, the total value of Thailand’s GDP amounted to approximately four trillion baht (US$128 billion).
Last month, Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) had warned that 2.5 million jobs in Thailand’s tourism industry risk being lost if tourist numbers do not pick up.
He said, “We have to bring in tourists by the last quarter [of 2020] as the domestic market alone cannot keep tourism workers employed.”