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“We Travel Together” campaign may be extended through 2020



PHOTO: Samui Times

The  “We Travel Together” government stimulus campaign may be extended to increase domestic tourism through to the end of the year, while travel bubbles for tourists will hopefully be launched by October, according to the Tourism and Sports Ministry. Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn. He says the slow start of the scheme, launched July 15, can be partly attributed to hesitation among tourists as they await more privileges in the campaign’s second phase.

Phiphat says there’s a chance of extending the booking and redemption period to the end of 2020, which would cover the high season, leaving the door open for those who still want to travel. He says he plans to discuss the idea of launching the second phase of the campaign, focusing on weekdays and second-tier provinces, with PM Prayut Chan-o-cha early next week.

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration has announced 4 groups of international tourists who will be allowed to visit the country beginning August 1… medical tourists, film crews, Thailand Elite cardholders and exhibitors.

“We have to wait until August 15 to see if there are any problems 2 weeks after allowing the first batch. I’m confident the travel bubbles scheme for tourists from low-risk countries will take place by October.”

In reality the travel bubble options could be short list of countries whose citizens may, or may not, be inclined to want to visit Thailand at this time. The conditions and restrictions put on these travel bubble tourists will also reflect their willingness to visit Thailand. For now, likely travel bubble candidates could include regional low-risk countries like Taiwan, China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar. Perhaps Singapore and Japan. Beyond that it’s difficult to see long-haul flights to Europe, for example, becoming affordable whilst the demand is so low.

Travel and tourism businesses are eager for the travel bubble scheme for foreign leisure tourists to begin, as domestic tourism stimulus plans have so far met with a tepid response.

The government is offering the “Moral Support” campaign, worth 2.4 billion baht, which will allow 1.2 million health volunteers and officials of subdistrict hospitals to travel with a budget of 2,000 baht per tourist. The governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand says tour operators will receive a payment within 7 days of hosting trips and providing evidence.

As of yesterday, 986 registered tour agents had joined the campaign, with 236 of 1,563 tour packages approved by the Tourism Council of Thailand. Operators can propose their tour packages to the agency until August 5.

The TAT says the agency will discuss providing optional identity verification for some 200,000-300,000 health personnel who don’t have smartphones, as the scheme requires QR code scanning for identification during trips.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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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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