Tourism-reliant Thailand has postponed its plans for a “travel bubble” deal with select countries as new cases of coronavirus cases uptrends daily in parts of Asia.
Off course, this has put pressure on its vital tourism industry and also complicated efforts to revive its troubled economy.
The idea was first mentioned in June by the country of allowing movement between selected countries with low numbers of infections without quarantining travelers.
But now that has been postponed, officials said amid the second and third waves in East Asian countries whose covid-19 cases were previously under control.
“Given the outbreak situation in other countries, we are delaying the discussion about travel bladder regulations for the time being,” Thailand’s Coronavirus Task Force spokesman Taweesin Wisanuyothin told Reuters.
Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy is facing its worst crisis in decades despite more than two months with no confirmed local broadcast and with just 3,300 COVID-19 cases.
Foreign arrivals fell 66% to 6.69 million in the first six months of the year. The industry has warned that 1.6 trillion baht ($51.50 billion) in sales could be destroyed this year.
For comparison, Thailand had a record 39.8 million tourists in 2019 and spent 1.93 trillion baht.
“Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea were among those considered (for a travel bubble) because those areas had a low number of cases, but now they were in double-digits so discussions were put on hold,” Taweesin said, referring to new daily infections.
The revival of talks would depend on the situation in each country, which the Task Force assessed daily, he said, adding that this was a generally accepted view of the industry.
Phuket island has instead proposed direct flights from these countries, with tourists and business people holding two-week quarantines at their hotels before going out.
Although the demand for longer stays would be lower, this would be a start, since occupancy of 40% to 50% is sufficient to survive and prevent job loss, added Bhummikitti.
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