Thailand’s economic gurus say Thailand’s sandbox proposal to reopen the country to foreign tourists in the coming months is extraordinarily ambitious.
The idea would be to offer vaccinated foreigners non-quarantine holidays from July 1 in Phuket and from October 1 in Pattaya and several other tourist-friendly locations.
According to the latest post on the Thailand Tourism Authority website, the TAT continues to have confidence in the sandbox scheme.
Singapore-based Barclays Bank economists Brian Tan and Shreya Sodhani say in a new report that the recent surge in reported infections in Thailand is likely to lead to delays in reopening.
“In our baseline scenario, we think Phuket will reopen to tourism in September, followed by a few more provinces in December. We expect Bangkok to be the last to reopen and probably not until the end of next year, ”these gentlemen wrote in their report.
According to Health Minister Khun Anutin Charnvirakul, Thai authorities want to vaccinate at least 70 per cent of the population and foreign residents by September. But critics write that only one vaccination campaign has just started and that the country has been forced to purchase multi-brand vaccines after the number of Covid19 infections has increased sixfold since the new outbreak since early April.
Boonanan Pattanasin, president of the Pattaya Business and Tourism Association, said the current vaccination coverage in the Pattaya area is too low to hit the 70 percent baseline by the end of September. While the number of coronavirus cases has recently declined in Pattaya itself – currently around 15 to 20 a day, vaccination is the only key to the city’s reopening. Getting enough vaccines to Pattaya is and remains difficult, as the priority is in Bangkok, where clusters of virus variants are discovered on a daily basis.
Meanwhile, travel agents around the world have announced that the confusion in the sandbox is limiting interest in travelling to Thailand. Marc Jouvet, Pacific Area Travel spokesperson, said, “People want to know if the beaches and entertainment are reopening anytime soon. There is no point in allowing vacationers in if the beaches they want to visit are closed. “
Manchester-based travel agency Hugh West announced, “The classification of travel destinations in the Land of Smiles by color zones has been a disaster as ministers have given mixed reports as to what they mean.” He said the most important thing for the Thai authorities was to simplify the complex entry and visa requirements and “let us know when the pubs in Pattaya will reopen”.
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