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Thai Visa’s while under Covid

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  • S Landreth
    Arkhom: 40m arrivals by 2024

    Thailand is expected to return to the pre-pandemic level of international arrivals of almost 40 million in five years, according to Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith.

    Speaking at a seminar held on Wednesday by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), he said the tourism sector is expected to recover gradually, with a great number of foreign arrivals in 2023 once the country opens to more international tourists as the pandemic spread eases.

    Foreign tourist arrivals reached 6.7 million last year, generating revenue of about 300 billion baht, a far cry from almost 40 million arrivals in 2019 generating revenue of almost 2 trillion baht.

    Tourist receipts account for 12% of Thailand's economy, the second largest tally in Southeast Asia.

    Once the economy recovers, Mr Arkhom pledged his ministry is set to ramp up the tax base, enticing as many people as possible to enter the tax system to create government revenue.

    Regarding Thailand's capital market development, he said the market has been fully digitalised and he wants responsible bodies to pay heed to two vital issues: cybersecurity and cyber-resilience of the capital market.

    Cyber-resilience is the ability of an organisation to enable business acceleration (enterprise resiliency) by preparing for, responding to, and recovering from cyberthreats. A cyber-resilient organisation can adapt to known and unknown crises and challenges.

    Personal information protection is also crucial, as any privacy disclosure requires prior consent from users, said Mr Arkhom.

    He said to develop the country's capital market, the Finance Ministry has proposed to related authorities using existing mechanisms or market networks to help businesses hit hard by the pandemic. The goal is to create a level playing field for enterprises of all sizes to gain easier access to the financial and capital markets.

    The ministry also proposed amendment of strict capital market laws and regulations, in line with the changing context of digital assets and cryptocurrency.

    The capital market should be promoted for fund mobilisation for social and environmental businesses, and as a venue that promotes good corporate governance, said Mr Arkhom.

    He suggested the capital market beef up its digital infrastructure development, applying digital innovations to build the market, while speeding up promotion of digital capital mobilisation via security token offering (STO) through altering regulations to accommodate such fundraising. An STO is a type of fundraising where a company offers tokenised securities.:

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  • S Landreth
    Airlines seek July reopening date

    Covid-19 vaccinations for airline workers have to proceed within the next two months to be aligned with the tourism sandbox in Phuket aiming for July, says the Airlines Association of Thailand (AAT).

    "A tourism rebound will largely depend on the pace of inoculations which can build confidence among both workers and passengers," said Puttipong Prasarttong-Osoth, AAT president.

    The AAT consists of seven local airlines; Bangkok Airways, Thai AirAsia, Thai AirAsia X, Thai Smile Airways, Nok Air, Thai Lion Air and Thai Vietjet with a total combined workforce of 16,000.

    He said airline operators would like the reopening plan to be implemented within July instead of waiting until October, according to the government plan.

    The tourism sandbox which has a clear timeline will allow airlines to prepare for flights to low-risk countries like Singapore, Hong Kong and neighbouring countries.

    Mr Puttipong, also Bangkok Airways president, said if the country can reopen by Oct 1, the airline capacity for international routes in December will gradually increase to 20% from zero.

    The airline is also considering joining the test run of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Travel Pass, a digital health certificate for international travel.

    THAI Airways International and THAI Smile Airways have already joined this project.

    He said every local airline may adopt IATA's Travel Pass which will be used globally as a tool, but the entry policy will depend on the government of each country.

    Mr Puttipong also suggested the government simplify the redemption method in the air ticket subsidy by applying the same procedures as hotels because people likely book their air tickets first.

    Ms Nuntaporn said international flights may come back slowly in the third quarter between countries which Thailand has bilateral agreements with, such as Singapore, Taiwan and China.

    On Tuesday, the AAT agreed to jointly work together with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) under the Amazing Thai Travel Fleet campaign to drive domestic trips with hefty promotions.

    TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the additional two-million room nights in the subsidy campaign was delayed to May as it has to wait for a new face scanning system which will take six weeks to be ready for fraud prevention.:

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  • S Landreth
    It’s official (for Bangkok Post)
    • Quarantine period cut to 10 days

    Thailand has shortened the quarantine period for arrivals to 10 days from 14, effective next month.

    Starting April 1, both Thais and foreigners coming to Thailand will be isolated for 10 days, according to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), which posted the updates on its Facebook on Monday.

    During the period, they will be tested for Covid-19 twice — one during day 3 to day 5 and the other on day 9 or day 10.

    The exception is those from countries where there are mutations of the virus in which case they will be isolated for 14 days.

    People in quarantine may leave rooms during certain hours and for some purposes such as to use fitness centres or swimming pools; exercise outdoors; or buy food and products, but must remain in the quarantine facilities.

    In addition, the required paperwork before trips will be slightly changed.

    For foreigners coming to Thailand, fit-to-fly documents will no longer be required. Only RT-PCR test results taken within 72 hours are needed.

    Thais may choose to submit either fit-to-fly documents or RT-PCR test results, according to the CCSA.:

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  • S Landreth
    Thai tourism officials welcome Miss Grand International 2020 contestants

    Contestants of the 8th Miss Grand International pageant have completed the mandatory quarantine enriched by the Amazing Thailand Happy Quarantine activities

    The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is pleased to welcome the organisers and all 63 contestants of the Miss Grand International 2020 beauty contest, following their completion of the 14-day mandatory quarantine in Thailand.

    H.E. Mr. Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, Minister of Tourism and Sports, presided over the welcoming ceremony, which took place this afternoon at the TAT Head Office. Also present at the event were Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor, and members of the TAT’s management as well as staff.

    Minister Phiphat presented a token of appreciation to Mr. Nawat Itsaragrisil, President of the Miss Grand International and Ms. Valentina Figuera, Miss Grand International 2019.

    “I would like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to the organisers of the Miss Grand International 2020 pageant for strictly following Thailand’s public health measures in their arrangement for this year’s contest. I am delighted to see that all contestants are staying healthy and getting ready for the contest in the next two weeks,” Minister Phiphat said.

    After arriving in Bangkok on 28 February, all Miss Grand International 2020 contestants have spent two weeks in Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) in Thailand as required under nationwide regulations to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19.

    To help break the boredom of quarantine for the contestants, TAT has helped to enhance and enrich the Amazing Thailand Happy Quarantine activities by providing a ‘Happy DIY Set’ for each of them to explore their creativity while waiting to clear quarantine.

    The Happy DIY Sets include an iconic Krajood woven bag from the Thale Noi Community in Phatthalung province; a set of cloth mask with neck strap (either a batik cloth mask from the Sao Thong Tong Community in Nakhon Si Thammarat and a pearl neck strap from Phuket, or an indigo-dyed cloth mask that comes with a neck strap made from an indigo-dyed bobbin from the Nakham Community in Sakon Nakhon); a pair of woven water hyacinth slippers from the Ban Non Champa Community in Buri Ram, and a set of Benjarong ceramic from Ban Don Kai Di Community in Samut Sakhon.

    In addition, the contestants have experienced “Thainess” through some fun activities; such as, the Thai cooking class by trying their hands at making Phat Thai, Som Tam and grilled chicken.

    Miss Grand International 2020 is the 8th Miss Grand International pageant, scheduled to be held on 27 March, 2021, at Show DC Hall in Bangkok. Prior to the grand finale, all 63 contestants are currently enjoying a series of activities that showcase the charm of Thailand’s culture and attractions.

    Amazing Thailand Happy Quarantine:

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  • S Landreth
    Looking forward to Thailand accepting proof of a good covid vaccination so some can skip most if not all quarantine

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  • S Landreth
    Thailand Quarantine period cut to 10 days from April 1 for overseas travelers

    The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) on Friday approved reducing the quarantine period from 14 days to 10 days for travellers as proposed by the Public Health Ministry, starting from April 1.

    Visanuyothin also revealed plans for further relaxation from June and quarantine-free travel from October.

    He said in the coming months, people in hotel quarantine would be allowed more activities outside their room as per conditions set by the Public Health Ministry.

    In the first phase of relaxation of quarantine from April 1 to June 30, quarantined travellers will be allowed to use the fitness centre and gym including outdoor exercise, pool and cycling in a controlled area. They will also be allowed to buy food and products outside the quarantine area.

    In the next phase of relaxation, from July 1 until September 30, quarantined people will be able to eat in the hotel’s dining hall and use spa and massage service.

    From October 1, only travellers from countries specified in the watchlist by the national commutable disease committee will have to quarantine. However, quarantine measures will change to close observation, using technology to help manage and track the travellers.

    Businessmen who make a short visit from April 1 until September 30 can now use the hotel meeting room but still have to follow Public Health Ministry’s guidelines and conditions.:

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  • S Landreth
    Thailand - Routes to recovery

    The Tourism and Sports Ministry announced a more relaxed mandatory quarantine scheme last week called "Area Quarantine", which is scheduled to be ready on April 1.

    Under the plan, vaccinated tourists are required to quarantine for only seven days instead of two weeks within hotel areas. After one week, they can travel to any province.

    Those who have not been inoculated must spend 10 days in quarantine, but they are entitled to roam around restricted areas within the property.

    Specific areas of the country, such as islands, are joining the pilot project. Most are destinations in the South, which are heavily reliant on international markets.

    The move is seen as the first step before opening Thai borders to the world with quarantine-free entry in October.

    But is this endeavour worth the effort? Or will it be another failed attempt like the special tourist visa (STV) scheme that required visitors to go through complicated procedures and was very costly? Will it win the approval of local communities? The "Phuket Model" was undone last year because locals were not convinced it was safe.

    The most important question is whether this scheme provides sustainable growth for tourism when the nation lags other countries in providing a mass vaccination programme.


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  • S Landreth
    Thailand - Samui prepares no-quarantine plan

    Koh Samui aims to implement quarantine-free travel for inoculated visitors from Oct 1 in tandem with Phuket.

    "Koh Samui wants to grab tourist demand as there are many destinations globally that require no quarantine," said Ratchaporn Poolsawadee, president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui.

    Koh Samui is expected to be the first area in Surat Thani to test entry procedures for foreigners because the island has an airport.

    Koh Phangan and Koh Tao are reachable via ferry transit and they can develop their own entry standards.

    Mr Ratchaporn said Koh Samui's district chief officer insisted local communities have no opposition to a quarantine-free tourism plan.

    The island also joined the tourism sandbox, a pilot programme to accelerate the reopening process before the whole country opens up to the international market in the fourth quarter.

    However, some 300,000 vaccine doses have to be administered in Samui to create herd immunity first, he said.

    In addition, the government has to allow international commercial flights to transit in Bangkok at a sealed terminal before flying to Koh Samui.

    Mr Ratchaporn said the aircraft type can be the 70-seat ATR 72-600, with one flight per week to facilitate the flow of tourists to the island without undergoing quarantine in Bangkok.

    The association already arranged meetings with the Tourism and Sports Ministry and the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration for further discussion on the reopening scheme.

    Meanwhile, to boost the domestic market, operators on three islands are hosting a promotional event called "Wonder Islands Samui, Phangan, Tao" from March 11-17 in Bangkok. They expect to stimulate the local economy via package sales worth a combined 20 million baht, with more than 5,000 hotel bookings.

    Mr Ratchaporn said this event and the Songkran holiday should increase trips to the island and boost average occupancy to 60-70% in April from only 10% currently.

    Tourism fairs are scheduled in other regions such as Chiang Mai and the Northeast to beef up inter-regional travel.

    "The government should consider offering a 50% subsidy for ferry transit to every island destination," said Worapong Wongsuwan, vice-president of the Koh Tao Tourism Association.

    He said a round-trip ferry package from Chumphon or Koh Samui to Koh Tao costs around 1,300 baht, and this subsidy would make it more likely Thais holiday on the islands.:

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  • S Landreth
    Thailand - Tourism eyes Chinese

    The Andaman sandbox project that promises quarantine-free travel has tourism operators optimistic about travel bubble agreements with vaccinated nations, especially China, after Beijing signalled its first softening of outbound travel restrictions in one year.

    The Chinese government announced on Tuesday it is issuing a digital Covid-19 vaccination certificate to its citizens to facilitate crossing borders.

    The move made the Thai tourism industry jubilant, said Vichit Prakobgosol, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents.

    The movement prompted tour agencies in China to immediately contact tour operators in Thailand to learn information about a possible exchange of vaccinated tourists via a quarantine-free programme.

    Mr Vichit suggested Thailand hold a discussion with the Chinese authorities as soon as possible to see if there is common ground on health, safety and vaccine protocols.

    He said tour agencies on the mainland confirm their tourists are ready to take outbound trips from June.

    "If Thailand can implement a travel bubble with China by that time, we have high hopes we can have 8 million Chinese visitors this year," said Mr Vichit.

    "If a pact is finalised in July, Chinese arrivals would be less than 6 million, and if not until October, the figure is more likely 3 million."

    He said China should be the top priority because it has recovered faster and thus consumers have higher purchasing power.

    "The Chinese market could take just two months to resume after regulations are settled. Chinese arrivals could reach 10 million within one year. If Andaman provinces lead pilot projects, this will benefit the tourism industry," said Mr Vichit.

    Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the Andaman sandbox, which sees some areas welcome tourists without quarantine, includes Phuket, Koh Ngai, Railay and Khao Lak in the first phase in July.

    The first arrivals could be from China if Thailand can start bilateral agreements with Beijing without waiting for vaccine passport guidelines from the World Health Organization, he said. This also depends on when the Chinese government allows outbound travel.

    Though some agencies in China, such as Ctrip, project the country to allow international travel from July, it won't be easy to achieve 8 million arrivals this year as the prohibition against outbound travel remains for the first half this year, said Mr Yuthasak, adding sentiment is positive after a meeting with governors of southern provinces.:

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  • S Landreth
    Thailand - Restrictions to end 'by October'

    Thailand will be fully reopened by October and all Covid-19 restrictions lifted, if all sectors continue to cooperate with the government in its containment efforts, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) hinted on Wednesday.

    Among the major requirements for reopening the country, after more than a year of costly restrictions, was the public sector's readiness to resume normal life, said CCSA assistant spokeswoman Apisamai Srirangson.

    Speaking after a meeting of the CCSA's sub-committee on easing business and activity restrictions, Dr Apisamai praised officials in Samut Sakhon, the epicentre of a recent wave of infections.

    They had been performing well to contain Covid-19 and continued to be highly compliant with the CCSA's control protocols, she said.

    Active cooperation by the private sector and a similar good response by members of the public to the government's Covid-19 containment efforts were two other major criteria to take into consideration before approving the full reopening of the country, she said.

    "The proposal will be discussed at a meeting of the CCSA's main committee on March 19," she said.

    As part of the reopening proposal, the CCSA will consider upgrading Samut Sakhon from a maximum control area to an area on high alert for Covid-19, she said.

    The province is due to receive 70,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines in three weeks and no serious side effects of vaccinations administered in the province in the first week had been detected, the doctor said.

    On Wednesday was the last day of preparing to imnplement so-called "bubble and seal" Covid-19 containment measures, Dr Apisamai said.

    Under these measures, factories which provide on-site accommodation for workers will be "sealed", meaning employees cannot leave the grounds.

    Workers from factories that don't offer on-site dormitories and sleep elsewhere will have to adhere to a "bubble" approach -- their movements will be strictly monitored, and officials may be required to deliver their food and other essentials, so they have no reason to leave their dormitories.

    As of Monday, 112,595 factory workers and fresh market vendors, as well as local of various communities in Samut Sakhon, have been tested for Covid-19, said Dr Apisamai, of whom 975 had tested positive for Covid-19, approximately 0.87%.

    The CCSA on Wednesday recorded 39 new cases of Covid-19, 34 of which were local transmissions and the rest imported.

    Taweesilp Visanuyothin, the CCSA's spokesman, told the Bangkok Post that clearer details of the idea of reopening the country should be made available after the March 19 meeting of the CCSA since they concerned several ministries and would take time to finalise.

    Meanwhile, the Department of Medical Sciences said its inspection of 230 doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine would likely be completed today.

    Jabs from this batch of imported vaccine will be administered to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and other cabinet ministers by the end of this week, said the Department's director-general, Supakit Sirilak.

    The government on Wednesday also claimed a success in its so-called Villa Quarantine programme, being piloted as a tourism-based Covid-19 quarantine option on the resort island of Phuket.

    A total of 58 European visitors who arrived there on a chartered flight from Indonesia on Feb 21 had completed their quarantine periods and now were ready to travel more freely in Thailand, said Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.

    Those tourists planned to stay for a month and were also interested in visiting other key destinations, said Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor Yuthasak Supasorn.

    However, Ekkasit Ngamphichet, president of Pattaya's Business and Tourism Association, urged the government to speed up its vaccination programme and hasten the adoption of shorter quarantines for foreign tourists as the economy needed a lift.:

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  • S Landreth
    Vaccine passports approved to cut quarantine time in Thailand

    The National Committee on Communicable Diseases has approved the use of vaccine passports in Thailand, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul announced on Monday.

    Under the measure, travellers with vaccination certificates will have their Covid-19 quarantine reduced from 14 days to seven days.

    However, travellers from South Africa, where a highly contagious coronavirus variant is rife, will still have to undergo the full 14-day quarantine.

    In Thailand, Covid-19 vaccination certificates will be issued for a fee of Bt100 by hospitals administering second doses of the vaccine from March 21. The certificates can be used for international travel once the World Health Organisation (WHO) has finalised criteria for vaccine passports.

    The Thai vaccine-passport certificate will be valid for one year.Anutin revealed the reduced quarantine applied to three categories of traveller:

    First, foreign travellers who have a vaccination certificate dated not more than three months and not less than 14 days from date of entry. Travellers from South Africa still face 14 days of quarantine.

    Second, Thai nationals returning to Thailand with a vaccination certificate dated not more than three months and not less than 14 days from date of entry.Third, foreigners who have a Covid-free certificate but not a vaccination certificate will have their quarantine cut to 10 days. The measure is due to launch in April, said Anutin.

    Meanwhile, the communicable diseases committee expects Covid-19 restrictions to be lifted once 70 per cent of the population has been vaccinated. It also announced plans to procure another 10 million doses of vaccine.:

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  • S Landreth
    Area quarantine to be discussed by tourism minister and operators in Phuket on Wednesday

    Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn is scheduled to meet with representatives of hotels and other tourism-related businesses on Thailand’s famous resort island of Phuket on Wednesday, to discuss the proposed “area quarantine” concept for foreign travelers and tourists.

    The concept will allow travellers arriving from abroad more freedom of movement and is expected to attract more foreign visitors to Thailand and to Phuket, which will be one of the first areas to implement the “area quarantine” concept, tentatively in April, if approved by the government.

    Most hotels in Phuket remain almost deserted, with only 20% occupancy during weekends and other holiday, and most of those customers are Thais.

    Meanwhile, the National Communicable Disease Committee approved the idea of vaccine passports on Monday, to be issued to those already inoculated. The document will shorten the period of mandatory quarantine from 14 days to 7 upon arrival in Thailand, with the exception of travellers from South Africa, who are still subject to 14-day quarantine.

    Tourism and tourism-related businesses are optimistic that the vaccine passport will encourage more foreign travellers to visit Thailand.:

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  • S Landreth
    7 day quarantine for arrivals from abroad with vaccination certificate from April, excluding S. Africa

    The Thai National Communicable Disease Committee has decided to shorten the mandatory quarantine period for vaccinated people arriving from abroad, from 14 to 7 days, effective from April, with the exception of those arriving from South Africa, who are still subject 14-day isolation.

    Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said today that the committee also approved the vaccine passport program, adding that those vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine will be issued with a certificate by the hospital which provided the inoculation.

    He noted, however, that whether this certificate will be accepted by the country of destination for departing passengers, in the case of those inoculated in Thailand, will depend on the policy of that country, because there is no current standard vaccine passport format issued by the World Health Organization.

    Anutin explained that the committee decided to shorten quarantine because COVID-19 infections have dropped, after about 250 million doses of vaccine have been given to millions of people worldwide.

    Meanwhile, the CCSA today reported 71 new COVID-19 cases today, including 48 locally-acquired infections and 23 among arrivals from abroad.

    Of the 71 new cases, 40 were recorded in Samut Sakhon, one in Bangkok and the rest in other provinces.

    Cumulative infections, since early last year, are 26,441, with 25,777 recoveries and 85 deaths. 579 others are still being treated in hospitals.

    CCSA assistant spokesperson Dr. Apisamai Srirangsan said the CCSA subcommittee today proposed that the Culture Ministry allow “new normal” celebrations of the Songkran festival in April.

    She reminded everyone, however, of the need to keep our guard up by strictly observing social distancing and wearing face masks in public, or there may not be any Songkran celebrations for another year.:

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  • S Landreth
    Thailand’s Tourism seeks to reopen country by July 1

    The Open Thailand Safely campaign has laid out its arguments in a petition which will underpin a formal request to the Royal Thai Government to respond favorably to the rollout of COVID-19 vaccination programs underway in Europe, USA and other Thailand tourism source markets

    The #OpenThailandSafely campaign was launched 2 March with the support of over 15 major companies including YAANA Ventures, Minor Group, Asian Trails, Capella Hotels and Resorts, EXO and many others.

    The Open Thailand Safely campaign has laid out its arguments in a petition which will underpin a formal request to the Royal Thai Government to respond favorably to the rollout of COVID-19 vaccination programs underway in Europe, USA and other Thailand tourism source markets.

    The petition is open to anyone in Thailand or around the world who would like to see the country reopen.

    The campaign argues that 1 July is an appropriate date for five reasons: the majority of citizens in many source markets will have been vaccinated by then; it gives time to Thai medical authorities to vaccinate both front line staff in hospitality settings in Thailand and/or vulnerable citizens around the country; it gives international travelers time to make travel plans and bookings; the date gives time to airlines, hotels, tour operators and others to start marketing and sales and get ready for tourism operations to commence; and it will take Thailand at least a year, and maybe longer, to return to the large numbers of international visitors that it had before the COVID-19 crisis.

    To ensure the safe reopening of Thailand, the petition argues that “international tourists can be asked to satisfy any safeguards the Thai Government may require. This may, for example, include showing officially recognised proof of a COVID-19 vaccination from their home country, purchasing health insurance, showing proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure, and so on.”

    #OpenThailandSafely was the initiative of leading Bangkok-based private sector travel companies YAANA Ventures, Minor Group and Asian Trails.

    The CEO of YAANA Ventures, Willem Niemeijer, said: “The 1 July reopening would be a strategic opportunity for Thailand to show a leadership role among Asian countries and prepare the way for a solid recovery of the Thai economy in 2022.”

    In the coming days, the Open Thailand Safely campaign will also send the 1st July request to Thailand Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, the Minister of Tourism and Sports, Mr Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, and the Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Mr Yuthasak Supasorn.

    According to the Bank of Thailand and official sources in Thailand, tourism, pre-COVID, was worth about 2.9 trillion baht (US$96.5 billion). Some 39.7 million international visitors in 2019 helped sustain up to 8.3 million jobs. However, arrivals fell to 6.7 million in 2020 making between two and four million people unemployed.:

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  • S Landreth
    ^Call them. I am sure they would like to hear from you.

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