Five more traveller destinations in Thailand will be opened to site visitors starting Nov 1 on the condition that there is no new massive Covid-19 cluster in the areas until then.
The areas are Bangkok, Chiang Mai (Muang, Mae Rim, Mae Taeng and Doi Tao districts), Prachuap Khiri Khan (Hua Hin district), Phetchaburi (Cha-am district) and Chon Buri (Pattaya, Bang Lamung and Sattahip districts), authorities spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana stated on Saturday.
Bangkok is of particular issue since it is the gateway to the country.
“Although travelers may select to go to the sea or mountains, almost all of them have to visit Bangkok at least once on their journeys to the country,” he said.
The capital has been the epicentre of the third wave of the outbreak, with the highest number of cases and deaths, although the number of new cases nationwide has fallen to barely more than 10,000 a day in recent weeks, a level manageable by the healthcare system, according to authorities.
It stays unclear what the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s view of the plan is. Earlier, the Bangkok governor had said the capital would be opened only when he gave the green light, noting that a 70% vaccination price in all districts used to be his goal.
Mr Thanakorn said the government’s decision followed the success of the Phuket Sandbox scheme, which has injected 2.33 billion baht into the economy over the previous three months because its launch in July.
As of Thursday, 43,026 travelers had visited the resort island. Hotel bookings for stays from July until February now total 779,502 nights. The top five nationalities of the visitors have been American, Israeli, British, German and French.
The Samui Plus programme and the 7+7 extension to the Phuket sandbox attracted 1,069 visitors.
The authorities projects 1.5 trillion baht in tourist revenue next year. Almost half of it, or around 600 billion baht, would come from 15 million foreign tourists. The domestic travel market is forecast to add another 800 billion baht.
The forecasts represent half the amount earned in pre-Covid 2019, when tourism income totalled 3.4 trillion baht and foreign arrivals have been almost 40 million.
“Under the Phuket sandbox, there have been no reports of transmissions between overseas visitors and Thais. Thais have to therefore be confident and join us in reworking Thai tourism,” Mr Thanakorn said.