One thousand foreign visitors are expected to be allowed entry to Thailand per day and the standard 14-day Covid-19 quarantine rule will be waived, according to an implementation plan for “travel bubbles” to be submitted for the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA)’s approval on Wednesday.
On Sunday 15th June, Deputy Government spokeswoman, Traisuree Taisaranakul, announced that mostly business people and patients seeking medical treatment in Thailand will be allowed to enter the Kingdom and this must come as part of bilateral cooperation on tourism between Thailand and selected countries which have managed to contain the COVID-19 epidemic.
The spokeswoman went on to say that general foreign tourists will later be allowed to visit Thailand if the tourism promotion programme proves successful in terms of the transmission control.
COVID-19 screening tests will be required both before the visitors leave their countries and upon arriving in Thailand and this doesn’t mean that visitors will be able to travel freely while in Thailand as they will still be prohibited from visiting certain parts of the country and will be tracked via a smartphone application.
Exact details of the “travel bubbles” programme are being discussed by the Tourism and Sports Ministry, Public Health Ministry, Interior Ministry and Foreign Ministry.
The CCSA had on Friday agreed in principle on the travel bubbles proposal despite objections raised by security authorities.
The travel bubbles programme is seen by the Tourism and Sports Ministry as the first step to safely reopen Thailand’s tourism to international visitors, she said. It is hoped to help accelerate the recovery from the economic impact of the pandemic on tourism, she said.
Despite the CCSA’s preliminary approval on the travel bubble proposal, security authorities had expressed strong objections to the idea at Friday’s meeting, a source said.
They asked that the proposal be put on hold because it isn’t certain the tourism promotion programme won’t lead to a new spike of imported COVID-19 infections and possibly a new wave of local transmissions, the source said.
Worse still, giving privilege to these specific foreign visitors while still imposing the 14-day quarantine on Thai nationals being repatriated will likely prompt negative reaction by those Thais, the source said.
The source said the programme may not be welcomed by communities in Thailand’s tourist destinations that are being urged by the government to strictly maintain health measures to stay free of new COVID-19 cases. It is not known if special preparations will be needed in places likely to be popular with foreign tourists.
According to a recent online survey on public opinion about the government’s reopening policy, most Thais were concerned about the possibility of Thailand reopening the country too soon to international visitors.
A slight majority (54.39%) of all 1,116 respondents asked in the survey by Suan Dusit Poll, conducted 9-12th June 2020, said it still wasn’t time to allow international tourists back into Thailand.