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The suspension of Test&Go will cost Thailand 7 billion baht

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Thailand Tourism Board predicts that the suspension of Test&Go will undermine tourist confidence and cost the tourism sector 7 billion baht

The Tourism Board of Thailand believes the prolonged suspension of the Test&Go scheme could cost the tourism sector at least 7 billion baht in January and undermine tourist confidence in the long term, reports the Bangkok Post.

Tourism Board president Chamnan Srisawat said the unclear future of the Test&Go scheme would not only have a short-term impact on tourist numbers but also undermine their confidence in tourism in Thailand, which would take a long time to recover later.

The council estimates that the number of tourists in January will drop by 50% to 100,000 from an average of 200,000 tourists a month in November and December. The absence of international tourists due to the suspension of Test&Go means the tourism industry will lose at least 7 billion baht in revenue.

“Changing our policy of opening up the country at the height of the high season will directly affect opportunities in the rest of this year,” said Chamnan.

Based on the growing evidence that the omicron variant is running mild, the government needs to find a balance between health concerns and the economy, the council president added.

Tourism was the first sector to suffer from the government’s austerity measures, but in the past two years there has been no adequate financial support for tourism operators to sustain a business or save jobs during the pandemic, Chamnan said.

The Tourism Board expressed approval of the Covid-19 Situation Centre’s decision on Friday to approve more “sandbox” zones besides Phuket, which could help mitigate the impact to some extent, Chamnan said. However, the opening of sandboxes in other destinations will require multiple procedures to ensure sanitary safety, meaning they will not be ready to open until February at the earliest, Chamnan assured.

The tourism industry needs more proactive and timely action to save this high season as it has to work without the Test&Go scheme, states the Tourism Board president.

The government should offer better domestic tourism incentive packages to boost the local market while expecting the coronavirus situation in Thailand and abroad to improve, says Chamnan.

The Tourism Board president believes the Tour Teaw Thai scheme, which subsidises 40% of the cost of a tour package but no more than 5,000 baht for one million Thais, should be revised to attract more tourists and operators. Chamnan says private sector representatives should be appointed to a sub-committee to help revise the measures.

Thanet Supornsahasrungsi, acting president of the Chonburi Tourism Board, said the number of tourists who received Thailand Pass and plan to enter Thailand after January 10 was 47’737.

The lack of a definite date for the resumption of the Test&Go programme means Thailand will lose 3.34 billion baht from this group of tourists as they will have to cancel their trips, Thanet said. This will leave only 30,000 tourists arriving in Phuket out of the 77,999 foreign tourists intending to come to Thailand after January 10, as the ‘sandbox’ operates normally there.

According to the Thailand Pass dashboard, Phuket is the main destination for tourists, followed by Bangkok, Chonburi (Pattaya), Samutprakan and Surat Thani (Samui).

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