Earlier this summer the Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha set out a 120 day plan to reopen all of Thailand to foreign tourists. The plan was controversial at the time and soaring Covid cases and slow vaccination programme had made the plan look unachievable.
Main picture White Temple, Chiang Rai, Thailand credit Peter Borter on Unsplash
Yesterday however, the Tourism and Sports Minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, said that the project was continuing but that some areas would have to wait until next year to reopen under a three-step plan. Key areas, including Bangkok, were slated to reopen in October as planned.
“The government is insisting on its plan to open these areas. In practical terms, these areas should have a 70% vaccination rate and receive mutual approval from local administrations and local health authorities before being reopening.”Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, Tourism and Sports Minister
Phuket, Koh Samui, Krabi and Phang Nga
Step 1 of the plan has already been completed. Phuket reopened on 1st July followed by a smaller project in Surat Thani, including Koh Samui, on 15th July. The Phuket Sandbox 7+7 Extension was then launched last month.
It is steps 2 and 3 however that have caught many by surprise.
Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin and Pattaya
Step 2 would see a number of areas reopening to foreign tourists as early as 1st October.
Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn however confirmed that Phetchaburi and Bangkok, epi-centre of Covid-19 cases in Thailand, were also part of step 2.
In Chiang Mai a one day hotel quarantine looks likely and travellers would be restricted to pre-booked excursions and would not be allowed to travel freely outside of their hotel.
Hua Hin hopes to offer a quarantine-free experience within the extended Hua Hin area.
Significantly Pattaya is now reported to be looking at a “sealed routes” quarantine free re-opening. The current proposals include a mandatory 7 night stay in Alternative Quarantine facilities before being allowed to stay in an approved hotel.
Quarantine-free travel is seen as being key to attracting foreign tourists in significant numbers.
No details have yet been published regarding the proposed schemes in Bangkok and Phetchaburi.
Step 3 however would see an even wider reopening, with many key tourism locations reopening on 15th October.
Locations are scheduled to be:
- Bueng Kan
- Chiang Rai
- Mae Hong Son
- Nong Khai
- Ubon Ratchathani
- Udon Thani
In what appears to be step 4, of a 3 step plan, Thailand will look to set up travel bubbles with key foreign locations from 1st January 2022.
The proposed travel bubbles are:
- Chiang Rai and Ranong with Myanmar
- Mukdahan, Nakthon Phanom and Nong Khai with Laos
- Narathiwat, Satun and Songkhla with Malaysia
- Sa Kaeo, Surin and Trat with Cambodia
Source: Bangkok Post
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