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Thailand Considers Opening Southern Islands to Foreign Tourism

Published: August 11, 2020 at 11:01 pm

Phi Phi island

The Ministry of Tourism and Sports will be asking the government and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to consider opening five islands once it decides to lift the ban on inbound international travel to Thailand.

This was revealed by the Deputy Director General of the Department of Tourism and Sports, Ms. Wanthana Jaengprajak.

According to the Deputy Director General, Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn will be making a proposal to the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration to consider reopening the islands of Phuket, Phi Phi, Koh Samui, Phangan and Tao to foreign tourists.

These islands are in the three southern provinces of Phuket, Krabi, and Surat Thani.

The Deputy Director General said that these islands are considered safe to accept foreign tourists when the borders reopen. They are self-sustaining, and can be easily monitored, regulated and quarantined if ever a problem does arise.

It’s easier for the government to maximize the safety of the local communities and the incoming tourists in these islands, she said.

The Ministry had met with a number of government agencies as well as private organizations in all three of the provinces. This was in order for the government and the private sectors to determine the safest and most efficient way to let tourists enter the provinces.

The meeting also aimed to come up with a way of determining the approval of the communities in the aforementioned provinces.

The private sector had already agreed on a new approach to selecting tourists from cities that are safe from COVID-19, i.e. cities that have not recorded a new case of infection within the last 60 days. These tourists will be allowed to visit pre-selected destinations in certain provinces that are also deemed equally safe from the virus.

The plan, called “Safe and Sealed,” was presented to Minister Phiphat last Wednesday, and will be presented to the relevant government agencies.

There is still no precise date or a solid timeline regarding the opening of borders for foreign tourism.

Speaking during a webinar hosted by Mekong Tourism and Travel Mole, Tourism Authority of Thailand Deputy Governor Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya opined that it is unlikely for foreign tourism to reopen as early as fourth quarter of this year.

The borders might remain closed until at least 2021, Governor Chattan said, adding that there have been no discussion on the earlier travel bubble arrangements that the government had created with the countries of South Korea, Japan and China.

However, these arrangements were suspended after the capital cities of South Korea and China recorded fresh outbreaks in the middle of June.

The Deputy Governor also said that the government would like to first closely monitor the first group of non-tourist foreigners that will be allowed to enter Thailand

Migrant workers, state diplomats, film crews and medical tourists will first be allowed to enter Thailand under strict health measures. They must present a negative result certificate from a COVID-19 test taken 72 hours before their departure date from their country, and they must undergo swab testing and two-week quarantine upon arrival in the Kingdom.

Source: Pattayamail

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