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FTI warns Thailand must reopen to international tourists



FILE PHOTO: Will tourists even remember Thailand by the time it reopens?

With such a long time since tourists were welcomed into Thailand, the Federation of Thai Industries fears that potential tourists may be wandering away from Thailand. The FTI chairman warned that the window may be closing to still attract these travellers.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but as Thailand’s closure to most international travellers stretches to more than 18 months, tourists’ fond recollections of sun-drenched beaches, beautiful temples, great food, or wild nights may be fading away to a distant memory, and they may be tempted away by newer travel destination ideas. Or simply travelling closer to home.

The FTI chairman fears that Thailand has kept its doors closed and the tourism industry shuttered for too long already, and it’s time to rip off the bandage and reopen the country fully to international travellers.

He argues that now that 40% to 50% of the population of Thailand has been vaccinated, with injections continuing at a steady pace, the country is reasonably protected from Covid-19 outbreak if it were to reopen the borders.  The number of daily infections has dropped from its peak near 25,000 a day to consistently around the 10,000 per day mark. The trend is on the way down.

Hospitals that were once overrun with incoming patients, as authorities raced to set up hotel/hospital facilities, field hospitals, and community quarantine centres, have now calmed and the previous bed shortages are no more. Thailand is prepared for the medical needs of future Covid-19 patients should a surge occur as the borders are reopened.

The FTI chairman did say that vaccination is still lagging and that before opening the country, a drive should focus on vaccinating the business sector so it is ready to open and operate safely for a full international reopening.

He stated that the economy is beginning to show signs of recovery and economic activity is fluttering to life, even though the Sandbox figures were disappointing, but that the gross domestic product will grow by only 1% this year and government assistance is still needed to help small to medium-sized enterprises stay afloat.

SOURCE: The Star

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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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