Thai Minister of Tourism and Sports, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, has given assurances that the reopening of Thailand to foreign tourism is going ahead. He revealed that the Thai cabinet, on Tuesday last, agreed to set up a new Thai tourism agency to market and operate long stay holidays to Thailand to tourists in countries free from a recent Covid 19 outbreak and who can meet the country’s demanding and strict entry criteria.
The Minister of Tourism and Sports has confirmed that Australian and New Zealand tourists will be the first to return to Thailand as he confirms that a new long-stay tourism agency is to be established which will coordinate all holidays to Thailand from the 1st October which will start in Phuket. The move represents what could turn out to be a new concept of tourism to Thailand moving it upmarket.
The Minister of Tourism and Sports, Mr Phiphat, has on Saturday, provided further clarity on the beginning of Thailand’s reopening to foreign tourism.
The minister has confirmed that on Tuesday, August 25th, the cabinet approved plans for the establishment of a new tourist development agency called Thailand Longstay. The new entity is to be 30% owned by the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
Visitors will be required to have a Covid 19 test, medical cert and $100,000 in health insurance
The new body will be responsible for marketing, offering and organising holidays to Thailand on a new basis to those interested in entering the kingdom.
This will include working with tourists to organise their visas through the relevant Thai embassies and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
It will also include obtaining the relevant insurances for all long-stay tourist passengers wishing to enter Thailand, at this time, to the value of $100,000 which will include insurance cover against the Covid 19 virus.
Phuket scheme is going ahead vows Minister
Mr Phiphat left no doubt that the initiative is going ahead and even suggested that a pilot of the new scheme would go ahead in mid-September.
This would see 200 tourists arriving in Phuket from both Australia and New Zealand.
These tourists, like the current certificate of entry passengers, will be expected to provide a medical certificate and be tested within 48 hours of departing for Phuket.
Once they arrive on the tourist island, they will be subject to 14 days quarantine within the alternative quarantine scheme run in conjunction with the Ministry Of Health which includes weekly Covid 19 tests and stringent security.
Further details on the new Phuket scheme which will be extended to other tourist hotspots
Mr Phiphat said that 10 hotels or resorts will be involved initially in the scheme.
He also announced a more restrictive quarantine for those arriving on such tours who wish to travel further in Thailand outside Phuket.
While those who have spent 14 days in quarantine can go on to have access to the island, those who wish to travel to other parts of Thailand must spend 21 days in quarantine.
In addition, no one can apply to Longstay Thailand to visit the kingdom without being resident in a country that has not had a serious Covid 19 outbreak within 30 days.
Scheme being examined by the PM
Mr Phiphat said the final details of this proposal was now being studied by the Prime Minister and Centre for Covid 19 Situation Administration.
His comments came as a government spokeswoman Traisulee Traisoranakul appeared to purposefully move to pour cold water on the prospect of any immediate approval for foreign tourism to recommence on Friday.
On Friday, Ms Traisulee emphasised that no firm decision on the matter had yet been taken by the government.
She appeared to be addressing concerns of those in Thailand who are set against allowing foreign tourists to return out of prevalent fears that it may cause another outbreak of the disease.
Thai Airways to commence flights from the end of November to Phuket from 6 countries
Her comments followed confirmation from Thai Airways that it was commencing bi-monthly flights from the end of November to Phuket from six countries including the United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong.
The airline also reported that it would be running chartered flights from China bringing in Chinese passengers to the popular tourist island.
Consultation teams from the government to visit Phuket and explain the plans to local people
Minister Phiphat also told reporters on Saturday that plans are in place to send officials from his department, within days, to Phuket to be joined by officials from the Public Health, Interior and Transport ministries as well as Tourism Authority executives to brief the local people on the new plans.
He was confident that rigid adherence to them would make certain that there would be no infection left undetected or liable to spread to the general population.
Maximise Thailand’s relationship with loyal and regular visitors with a new model for tourism
He also indicated that a similar team would visit Ko Samui. It is now clear that this programme for tourism after it is tested in Phuket will, if successful, be expanded to other tourist hotspots in Thailand.
Thailand is setting out its stall for a new tourism model.
Mr Phiphat explained that many of the expected holidaymakers will be former regular visitors to Thailand and the new approach would help maximise Thailand’s relationship with these friends outside its borders.