The reopening of five Thai tourism provinces including Bangkok looks set to be postponed until November so as to boost their vaccination rate to 70 per cent.
After meeting with Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) officials on September 22, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor Yuthasak Supasorn said: “Although the opening of pilot areas in all five provinces may have to be delayed until November 1, the TAT is not worried.”
October 1 was the original start date for quarantine-free international travel to Bangkok, Chiang Mai (Muang, Mae Rim, Mae Taeng and Doi Tao districts), Chonburi (Pattaya, Bang Lamung and Sattahip districts), Phetchaburi (Cha-am), and Prachuap Khiri Khan (Hua Hin).
However, Yuthasak said many locations under the plan were still waiting for vaccines to be delivered.
Authorities have set a threshold of 70 per cent vaccination of the local population before it is safe to reopen to foreign tourists.
Last week, Bangkok reported that only 37 per cent of residents had been fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, Chiang Mai province said it will not accept direct international flights during the first phase of reopening. Foreign tourists must instead join the Phuket Sandbox Seven-Plus-Seven Extension scheme, staying on the southern island for at least seven days before they can travel to Chiang Mai.
The delayed reopening is a blow to the Thai tourism industry, which was gearing up for the start of the high season on October 1. Tourism operators will now have to switch focus from the international market to domestic travellers.
Phuket, meanwhile, announced on September 21 that all entrances to the island, including the Tha Chat Chai checkpoint, will be open to fully vaccinated people from October onwards.
As for those who have contracted the virus before, they must provide a certificate showing they tested negative in an RT-PCR test or at least an antigen test. The certificate can be no more than seven days old. These certificates will be required at all entrance points.
THE NATION (THAILAND)/ASIA NEWS NETWORK