Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports promises to open the entire country without quarantine by January next year, but at the same time, such a move would largely depend on nationwide herd immunity.
Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said Bangkok was scheduled to reopen in October as part of the second phase for the country, but this phase has been postponed to November as the majority of residents are not getting their second vaccine dose. will get at the end of October.
“The plan for Bangkok is a bit more challenging as the area has expanded to include environments that require more extensive standard operating procedures [SOPs],” he said.
Meanwhile, Chiang Mai, Prachuap Khiri Khan (Hua Hin) and Chonburi (Pattaya) provinces will continue as planned on Oct. 1, as well as Phetchaburi, which has not yet started its SOPs and should accelerate that this month, Phiphat said.
At a recent meeting between the ministry and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), he said they agreed to add some provinces to the third phase of reopening under the 7+7 expansion program.
As a result, from October 15, there are 25 provinces that tourists can enter through the sandbox program as second destinations after spending seven days in one of these destinations: Phuket, Samui, Chiang Mai, Chonburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phetchaburi and Bangkok.
“We need to submit that list to the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration to allocate an appropriate amount of vaccines to them in a timely manner,” Phiphat said.
However, if vaccination does not reach the required level in certain areas, certain districts could be isolated at an early stage or these areas could be closed, he said.
“Only safe areas can reopen to Thai tourists on November 1, while international tourists are expected to enter without quarantine from January, led by travel bubbles with neighbouring countries from January 15,” the minister said.
The main condition is that Thailand must achieve herd immunity within this year, as determined by the government.
“While Thailand still registers more than 10,000 cases daily and has been relegated to the red list for some target markets, the number of tourists this year may not exceed 300,000,” he said.
“However, if Thailand can get back on the safe list this month, there are promising signs that we can hope for 1.2 million travellers in the final quarter.”
TAT governor KHUN Yuthasak Supasorn said areas slated to reopen in October are preparing SOPs for access under a quarantine-free approach, as seen in Phuket’s “Sandbox model”.
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