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Tourism Minister Wants 8 Phuket Regions to Reopen in Oct 1
Published: August 22, 2020 at 1:12 am
Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn puts forth proposals under the “Safe and Sealed” plan.
Photo By:CEphoto, Uwe Aranas
With the Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha agreeing in principle that Phuket can reopen on October 1, Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn is set to make proposals to the government on how that soft reopening can be implemented.
Under the Safe and Sealed plan, Minister Phiphat seeks to reopen 8 regions in the province to foreign traffic by October.
The Safe and Sealed plan is a tourism package that members of the private sector presented last month to Minister Phiphat and Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Yuthasak Supasorn.
The plan calls for agreements to exchange tourists with cities and provinces that are deemed as safe from COVID-19. Tourists must come from places that have not recorded any new case of COVID-19 for the last 60 days, must be able to present a medical certificate with a negative COVID-19 test, and must have health insurance when they travel to Thailand.
Upon arrival, these tourists will need to be quarantined within their accommodation for 14 days and subjected to COVID-19 testing before they will be allowed to freely roam around the province.
Minister Phiphat said that, to allow tourists access to the beach during the quarantine period, hotels that are co-located in a common stretch of beach can create a sealed zone.
While the Safe and Sealed plan originally calls for limiting tourists’ movement within the selected province, Minister Phiphat proposes to allow tourists to leave the province but only after subjecting themselves to another 7-day quarantine and additional COVID-19 testing.
The Tourism and Sports Minister expressed concern that tourists might be able to exploit loopholes, like using sea travel to circumvent quarantine rules. Land and airport checkpoints can be easily monitored and controlled, he said, but sea travel can easily be used to get past control areas.
To address these concerns, the Transport Minister will be traveling to Phuket, Krabi and Phang Nga to inspect travel routes and identifying possible weak areas that could be exploited to avoid quarantine.
The trip, scheduled for September 5 and September 6, will also include representatives from representatives of the Tourism and Sports, Public Health and Interior Ministries.
There is still no word from the government on when public hearings for the proposed plans will take place, but is understood to be within the schedule.
In a bid to encourage domestic spending in tourism, the TAT has inked deals with Mastercard and the rewards app UTU to offer this year’s Amazing Thailand Grand Sale.
By using the UTU app, holders of Mastercard credit cards in Thailand can earn exclusive shopback on their in-app purchases. If they use their card to book accommodation in a local hotel, they can avail of exclusive perks like up to 40% discount and an additional night of stay, free of charge, under the “Pay Now Travel Later” programme.
The Royal Thai Government is ramping up efforts to meet the 1 million room nights quota for the “We Travel Together” stimulus package, which is set to expire on October 31. It has recently extended the perks to corporate entities in an attempt to create demand and expand the market.