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No date for resumption of international arrivals: PM

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In an apparent effort to quell rumours and undue optimism, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is downplaying the notion that international tourists will be allowed to return to Thailand in July. The government had set a tentative deadline of 1 July for lifting all restrictions put in place under the Emergency Decree to combat the spread of Covid-19. Last week it was reported the lifting of restrictions would mean that international arrivals  would resume from July 1.

But yesterday the Thai PM said Thailand still has a long way to go in its fight against the virus before international tourists can be allowed to return. He added that the issue hasn’t yet been even discussed by the Cabinet, and that only tourists from certain countries may be allowed to visit Thailand, namely those where the outbreak is deemed to be under control.

When tourists are eventually allowed back in, he said, they’ll face “a number of restrictions” which he didn’t specify. This will include so called “travel bubbles,” using bilateral agreements with individual governments to help limit any further outbreak or second wave of infections.

The idea is similar to those enacted elsewhere as countries try to safely kickstart their tourism sectors.

In May, a “travel corridor” allowed people to travel between Seoul and 10 regions in China, including Shanghai, and in Europe, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania established their own travel bubble on May 15.

Australia and New Zealand have discussed plans to resume travel between the 2 countries, potentially as early as September.

The news comes as Tourism Authority of Thailand’s governor said last week he doesn’t expect international tourists to return to Thailand until later in the year.

“It is still dependent on the outbreak situation, but I think at the earliest, we may see the return of tourists in the fourth quarter of this year.”

If and when foreign tourists can return to Thailand, there will likely be restrictions in place to determine where they can visit. The resumption of any form of tourism will also rely heavily on airlines, most of which are struggling with huge financial losses and grappling with restarting flights in a very new international travel paradigm.

The PM has said he is in no rush to open up the borders, reminding reporters that all the new infections are now coming from repatriating Thais.

“We are not going to open all at once. We are still on high alert, we just can’t let our guards down yet. We have to look at the country of origin to see if their situation has truly improved. And lastly, we have to see whether our own business operators are ready to receive tourists under the ‘new normal’.”

A ban on all international travel in and out of Thailand remains in place until at least the end of June. The CAAT have made no comment at this stage about dates for a possible resumption of flights from Thailand’s international airports. Phuket Airport remains closed to all traffic.

SOURCE: thaivisa

 

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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