Thailand mulls shortening quarantine period for foreign tourists


  • Thailand
  • Friday, 25 Sep 2020

BANGKOK, Sept 25 (Xinhua): Thailand's Ministry of Tourism and Sports on Friday said that if the first batch of inbound tourists in October is clear of Covid-19 infections, then the ministry will reduce the quarantine period from 14 days to seven days.

After next Tuesday's cabinet meeting, the government will announce more details of the special tourist visa (STV), said Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.

He said that Oct. 1 will be the first day in almost six months for Thailand to allow long-stay visitors to enter the country.

"If the first two groups of 300 foreigners complete the 14-day quarantine on Oct 15 and Oct 21 without a positive case, then the ministry plans to propose an increase in the number of tourists per week by first of November," said the minister, adding that the 300 tourists per week allowed into Phuket Island will not be enough to fill up the whole supply chain and help tour operators.

The minister also said that the Phuket Provincial Public Health Office can provide swab testing services of up to 1,000 tests per day.

Phiphat said tourists will still have to complete two swab tests, a strip test and a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

The Tourism Council of Thailand estimates that when global tourism returns to normal, international arrivals to Thailand will hit 60 million, contributing 25 percent of GDP to Thailand by 2023.

Phuket also announced on Thursday (sept 24) that it will hold the annual vegetarian festival while observing strict social distancing measures amidst the ongoing pandemic.

The 2020 Phuket Vegetarian Festival (also named The Nine Emperor Gods Festival) will take place from Oct 17 to 25, said Phuket governor Narong Woonciew.

The governor warned that patrons who refuse to social distancing and wear face masks will be removed from the festivities site.

Thousands of celebrants converge on Phuket each year for the colorful event, one of the most popular vegetarian festivals in the country.

"We have been reeling from economic pain in Phuket as most of the island's income come from foreign tourists," said Narong, "so anything that helps reboot the local Phuket economy, we will support. For example this coming vegetarian festival."

The 2020 Phuket Vegetarian Festival will be the first public event launched since the pandemic began.- Xinhua
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