Resistance Grows For Return Of Tourists To Bangkok

This article was updated on 21st September 2021

Thai Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha has been pushing the reopening of many areas of the country to foreign tourists with a bold plan to welcome travellers back from October.

Main picture Bangkok at night from the Chao Praya river credit Geoff Greenwood on Unsplash

Last week we reported that the Bangkok reopening would be delayed to 15th October, from the 1st, due to a slow roll out of vaccines in the capital. Now the Bangkok Post is reporting that Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang has stated that even that date is too soon and won’t happen.

October always looked an ambitious target for the city which has been the centre of the latest Covid-19 outbreak in the country, by far the worst of the pandemic in Thailand, coupled with the difficulty of vaccinating the huge numbers of people required in time.

Now the Bangkok Governor seems to be ready to lock political horns with the Prime Minister and Ministry of Tourism and Sport.

“Any other people who talked about the Bangkok reopening have no authority. You have to ask me. We’ll reopen when it’s safe. If a new outbreak erupts, we’ll be back to square one. There is no pressure. I’m a heavy man. They can’t do that.”

Aswin Kwanmuang, Governor of Bangkok

The governor has stated that the priority in Bangkok will be the vaccination programme and that tourists will not be welcomed back until at least 70% of the population had been vaccinated. In the initial report the earliest that he believed that this will be achieved is 22nd October. The latest reports suggest that November is a far more realistic target.

Anti-government protests have been taking place in Thailand for much of the year and there was a recent attempt to overthrow the Prime Minister in a parliamentary vote of no confidence.

The government is keen to reopen the country to foreign tourists as soon as possible to provide a welcome shot in the arm for the devastated tourism industry in Thailand and provide a much-needed economic boost to the country.

To date just Phuket and Koh Samui have welcomed foreign tourists although recently the Phuket 7+7 Extension meant tourists could at least visit additional areas following 7 days in Phuket.

By last week there had been just over 33,000 arrivals in Phuket and just 711 to Samui under the schemes.

The Prime Ministers 120 Day Plan announced in June was announced to see the vast majority of Thailand open to foreign tourists by mid-October but always appeared a logistical and practical nightmare.

Plans to reopen Pattaya, Cha Am, Hua Hin and four districts of Chiang Mai; Doi Tao, Mae Rim, Mae Taeng and Mueang are still scheduled to reopen on 1st October despite concerns in each of the areas of their readiness.

Last week plans to simplify the entry process for foreign visitors were announced.

Source: Bangkok Post

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