Published on : Friday, June 18, 2021
Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha announced that the country is planning to fully reopen to international travellers in 120 days and provide at least one dose of vaccine to the majority of residents by early October to revive the economy that is heavily dependent on tourism.
Prime Minister Prayuth mentioned that some tourist destinations should be ready for fully vaccinated visitors without any quarantine requirement sooner than the wider reopening, with Phuket as the “pilot.” The country aims to vaccinate 10 million people a month from July and has ordered 105.5 million doses of vaccines for this year, more than the country’s target.
Thailand’s urgency to reopen for tourists comes from its dependence on tourism sector that contributed about one-fifth of the nation’s economic output before the pandemic. Worldwide travel restrictions decimated jobs and businesses in the past year and Thailand’s gross domestic product has contracted for five straight quarters. Policymakers have warned the trend is likely to continue in the absence of billions of dollars earned from foreign tourists.
An early test of how the reopening will be received by global travellers will come in July when the popular tourist destination Phuket will allow quarantine-free travel for vaccinated visitors. The “Phuket Sandbox” plan is dependent on the vaccination rate among the island’s residents hitting at least 70%. It currently stands at about 60%, far higher than the 5% nationwide.
During his address the Prime Minister also mentioned that places of work and business must be able to operate normally and without blanket restrictions. Domestic travel must be without blanket restrictions. Only exception to these guidelines will be if a truly serious situation develops or seems likely to develop. He also placed orders for provincial governors to make preparations for reopening and accelerating vaccinations. He also mentioned that Thais traveling abroad who are fully vaccinated must also be able to return home without quarantine.
Prayuth mentioned that the time has arrived for the country to look ahead and set a date for it can fully open and start receiving visitors because re-opening the country is one of the important ways to start reducing the enormous suffering of people who have lost their ability to earn an income. He stated that he setting a goal to be able to declare Thailand fully open within 120 days and for tourism centers that are ready, to do so even faster.