Thailand floats plan to welcome back international tourists in October

by Reprinted from CNN
Bangkok (CNN) — Hope is on the horizon for travelers wanting to spend their upcoming winter holidays in Thailand — provided they’re willing to spend several weeks in the kingdom and only stick to designated areas.
During a public forum held late last week, Thailand’s Minister of Tourism Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said the country is aiming to allow foreign tourists to enter the country through a program dubbed “Safe and Sealed.”
“I have asked the prime minister for approval to set October 1 as the date to allow (inbound) tourists to enter,” he said. “I also have requested to use Phuket as a pilot model … and have received approval from the Center for Economic Situation Administration.”
If successful, the project will be expanded to include other destinations.
In the beginning, tourists will be permitted to fly into Phuket — Thailand’s largest island — and will need to quarantine in a designated resort for 14 days.
Phiphat cited popular Patong Beach as an example of an area where this could work. Special one-kilometer zones consisting of three-to-four resorts could be set up there, allowing quarantined tourists to spend time on the beach — so long as they stay in their designated area.
Travelers will need to get tested for Covid-19 at the beginning and end of their quarantine period. Then, they will be free to travel on the island.
But the minister says tourists who wish to travel beyond Phuket will have to stay in quarantine for an additional seven days and will have a third Covid-19 test at the end of that 21-day quarantine period.
Hotel staff who work in these designated zones will not be permitted to leave without first going into quarantine and will be tested regularly for Covid-19 as well to prevent the spread of the virus.
Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, tells CNN Travel the plan has been approved by the government and the next step involves holding a public hearing to get approval from local residents.
This is expected to take place in early September.

100 Days Without Local Outbreak

Thailand’s Center for the COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) also said on Wednesday that the country has made the 100-day mark free from local transmission of COVID-19, however the economy has been hit hard by the pandemic, as Thailand relies heavily on tourism and exports.

Thailand hasn’t recorded any community transmission since May 26, said the CCSA.

The CCSA attributed the success in stemming the COVID-19 spread with strict measures such as strictly-policed borders that have been closed to foreigners for months.

However with the skies shut and borders sealed, the Thai economy had since March been suffering with the lack of cash flows from the tourism industry.

The Thai government has in principle agreed to open to tourists again ahead of the northern hemisphere winter, and is in the midst of planning to grant a maximum stay of nine months for long-stay tourists in the popular resort island of Phuket. 

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