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Thailand’s Health Minister optimistic about admitting business travellers



PHOTO: Thai PBS World

The Thai Public Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul, admits Thailand is caught between a rock and a hard place and can’t go on locking all foreigners out forever, in an effort to prevent a resurgence of the Covid-19 virus.

“We will either die of the disease or of hunger, so we have to face the challenge.”

He adds that the Kingdom has sufficient medical equipment and supplies, as well as adequate PPE, and the government is now looking at other ways to fend off the virus, including research into potential treatments and investment in vaccine development. The health minister remains optimistic about a future vaccine and the robust nature of Thailand’s public health system.

“When the first batch of vaccines is successfully developed, I believe Thailand will be among the first countries to benefit.”

Anutin maintains that, in the absence of foreign tourists, domestic tourism is key, adding that PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has advised state bodies to look beyond Bangkok when planning seminars and other gatherings, in order to generate income for the provinces.

“It is too late to wait for international tourists. The first movers to boost tourism are Thais.”

Meanwhile, the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau has come up with a proposal it hopes might boost the events and exhibitions industry in the Kingdom. TCEB president, Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya, hopes to persuade the government’s Covid-19 task force to agree to admit foreign business travellers without the 14 day quarantine requirement.

Visitors would be required to test negative for the virus no more than 72 hours before travel, as well as submitting to a further test on arrival, followed by 6 – 8 hours in quarantine while waiting for the result.

“Travellers would need to be accompanied by an escort team and use the government tracking app to record their movements.”

Chiruit says the TCEB is willing to work with the Public Health Ministry to ensure safety and hygiene measures, including social distancing, are complied with. He admits that while local residents may be wary of the plan, something has to be done to save the exhibitions sector, which is heavily reliant on foreign attendees.

“If we can begin the scheme to let business travellers into the country, we can manage the situation and business can move forward.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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