Published on : Saturday, March 6, 2021
Thailand Tourism has recently introduced a campaign trying to persuade the countrymen to welcome overseas tourists back by July. The campaign ‘OpenThailandSafely’ aims at welcoming tourists from across the globe by July 1, 2021. The date has been chosen to give enough time for prospective travellers to get vaccinated. The tourism reopening plans are also gaining momentum as authorities are rolling out a national inoculation program and looking into coronavirus vaccine passports and quarantine waivers. Organisers are expecting that Thai medical authorities will also be able to vaccinate their frontline staff and vulnerable citizens by July 1. It would also allow the tourism industry, including airlines and hotels, enough time to prepare to welcome tourists from abroad.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha already ordered officials to study vaccine certificates for international travel after signaling that the tourism-dependent nation is open to cancelling the two-week quarantine for vaccinated visitors. The local tourism industry also wants mandatory quarantines to be lifted from as early as July 1 so the nation can open to potentially millions of vaccinated travelers. On the other hand, the World Health Organization has warned about the risks of countries easing restrictions too fast. With strict lockdown measures, Thailand managed to contain COVID-19 infections and was considered as one of the top countries to have handled the COVID-situation well.
Thailand’s central bank has informed tourism, which accounted for about a fifth of the country’s gross domestic product pre-pandemic, is the key to returning Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy to growth. Thailand’s GDP contracted 6.1% in 2020, the most this century. While the country has made some efforts to reopen its borders to foreign tourists, strict quarantine rules have kept most tourists away. A successfully reopening of Thailand’s tourism would certainly inspire other countries to follow suit. Thailand, which started its vaccine rollout this week, aims to vaccinate at least 50% of its population by the end of this year.
The country has also planned to distribute vaccines to tourist hotspots such as Phuket and Koh Samui in preparation for a wider reopening. The government eased curbs on businesses and travel after bringing a recent flareup of the virus under control. However, Prayuth has cautioned against rushing to issue vaccine passports and wants more coordination with other countries. William Heinecke, Chairman of Minor International Pcl that operates 500 hotels across the globe is leading an online petition campaign to reopen the borders in the third quarter of the year. The online petition which got almost 6,000 signatories in two days has mentioned that the current situation is unsustainable. It mentioned that the July 1 reopening would be a strategic opportunity for Thailand to show a leadership role among Asian countries and prepare the way for a solid recovery of the Thai economy in 2022.