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Thailand To Push Travel Bubble Plans With Neighbor Countries

Published: February 3, 2022 at 8:11 pm

tourist arrived in bangkok airport

Thailand’s tourism minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn is pushing the resumption of travel bubble talks with neighboring countries after the reintroduction of the Test & Go program.  He wants to set discussions with countries like Cambodia, Laos, and Malaysia, citing the fact that these countries often produce large cross-border traffic for Thailand.

According to the tourism minister, travel bubble discussions might take place when Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha meets Malaysian leader Ismail Sabri Yaakob in the country next month. The ministry will also attend the Beijing Winter Olympics this month and is likely to inquire about the potential of a travel partnership with China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

However, there is a concern that travel bubbles alone may not be enough to restore Thailand’s battered tourism industry. The Tourism Council of Thailand said that the country’s stance on RT PCR testing standards must be relaxed if it intends to welcome at least 5 million foreign visitors this year. While tourism is showing signs of recovery, TCT president Vichit Prakobgosol warns that the present testing requirements could discourage travelers to visit the country.

Vichit states that a handful of destinations like the Maldives, Dubai, and Turkey, do not require a negative RT PCR test upon arrival and are already receiving more visitors than they did in 2019.. He added that the COVID-19 situation in those countries remains manageable despite their recent move.

If there is no surge in cases or deaths after the restart of Test & Go, the government must consider removing the RT PCR test requirement.  If so, the country is expected to get at least 5 million tourists this year.

Tourism Council of Thailand’s recent tourism confidence index sits at 47, based on a survey of tourism operators conducted between November 20 and December 10, 2021. It was 62 at the same time in 2020. According to the research, a value of less than 100 indicates poor tourist confidence.

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Source: Bangkok Post

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