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Spokesperson says “Phuket Model” won’t be enacted nationally anytime soon



PHOTO: Chiang Rai Times

The deputy government spokesperson Traisulee Traisoranakul said yesterday that the so-called “Phuket Model”, the island’s proposed “safe and sealed” program to reintroduce tourism from October, will not be implemented in the near future and rolled out to the rest of the country. She also encouraged Thai people ti “go on vacation to help the local economy”. She made no mention of the fact that millions of Thais are unemployed due to the Covid-19 crisis.

Last week there was a lot of hype about re-opening Phuket to limited, and highly restricted, tourism, but there were still many details not announced about the proposed October 1 starting date. Traisulee’s comments yesterday appear to ‘walk back’ last week’s announcement, or at least leaving its implementation unclear.

Traisulee says the Phuket Model project is being discussed in detail, but concerned officials have yet to consider many relevant factors, including the methods of receiving visitors, the categories of visitors to be accepted and measures to screen them and prevent Covid-19 transmission.

“It will take quite sometimes until it can be guaranteed that when foreigners are allowed in, they will not pose the risk of the second spread of Covid-19. Phuket people and Thai tourists can rest assured that the door has not been opened to foreign tourists. Actions will be taken in the most careful manner and properly and will not pose the risk of spreading Covid-19 for a second round.”

Traisulee says the Phuket Model would see the limited areas of tourist destinations, 14 day quarantine upon arrivals and visitors from Covid-free countries.

“Now the government is inviting Thai people to have vacation to help stimulate the economy and distribute income to local people.”

In a related story, tour operators are suggesting arranging “Covid-19 vaccination tours” for those who want to get vaccinated while on holiday. Tour operators are awaiting a clear set of rules and regulations – and and an actual vaccine – before selling packages.

Thais took 10.6 million overseas trips in 2019, with estimated spending of 340 billion baht. But the pandemic this year has forced outbound operators to close temporarily for almost 5 months. Reports of vaccines being developed in several countries have brought new hope to operators struggling to generate revenue.

The executive director of See You Again, an outbound tour operator in Thailand, says the company informally floated the idea of outbound tours targeting customers who would like to get vaccinated and travel at the same time. Netnapa Kaewsangtham says feedback from guests was positive, as they include many elderly people who have sufficient time and high purchasing power, According to Bangkok Post.

“We saw pent-up demand from travellers wanting to travel abroad but who are worried about virus exposure.”

After discussions with overseas partners, “vaccination tours” are possible but require official approval from both Thailand and destination countries.

Spending on such trips would average 100,000 baht for a 4-5 day program in Europe; 70,000 baht for a Russia trip; and 60,000 baht for a trip to China. Interested tourists would be responsible for their own 14-day quarantine accommodation upon returning to Thailand.

The likeliest opportunities are with China and Russia. Some tour groups from other countries have started to travel there to get vaccinations.

If vaccinations in Thailand are eventually distributed to locals, inbound holiday tour operators could adopt the concept by allocating a vaccine quota to international travellers who want to get vaccinated in Thailand as part of a medical holiday.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Chiang Rai Times


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  1. Nipral

    Saturday, August 29, 2020 at 12:02 pm

    So long Thailand !

  2. Dirty farang

    Saturday, August 29, 2020 at 12:03 pm

    Thailand for Thais only, stay away from dirty farangs.

  3. Genevieve Hawkins

    Saturday, August 29, 2020 at 12:17 pm

    Good luck

  4. Preesy Chepuce

    Saturday, August 29, 2020 at 12:29 pm

    How many of those overseas tourists were just locals popping across the border to Laos or Cambodia for work or business?
    How much of the money spent by Thai overseas travellers was spent by a small number of super-rich?
    Get real… What is the point in saying this stuff… They know hardly any locals want to spend money on local holidays right now.

  5. murika

    Saturday, August 29, 2020 at 12:33 pm

    since 7 millions thai passport are actually chinese people, if they do a trip home every year, it’s already most of those 11 millions thais going aboard, the rest are the one going work outside for better salary…

  6. Dai J

    Saturday, August 29, 2020 at 1:59 pm

    I wonder how any flights and hotels were booked over the past 3 days, nice little earner for Thai Air and the hotels taking non-refundable bookings

  7. chr

    Saturday, August 29, 2020 at 2:46 pm

    keep come up with these brilijant ideas this is the last place i would consider as a vaccination destination 2w ASQ 60k min 100k$ insurance yea good luck with that thais seem to believe tourists stand in line to come back those were the goodtimes

  8. Bobby m

    Saturday, August 29, 2020 at 2:50 pm

    Another spokesperson that doesn’t live in the real world.

    Crack on. Local tourism has already failed and the lies told about it at the outset, proven as lies and there is no concern about the Phuket model opening In other locations, because that Plan is doomed to failure anyway.

    A lot of this type of behaviour is the result of nepotism. People in jobs way beyond their educational abilities asked to comment.

  9. Jason

    Saturday, August 29, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    I have been to Thailand six times in the last three years. It is my favourite destination. I live in Queensland in Australia and we have 24 active cases of COVID 19 as of today (much less than Thailand, which on area, would fit into my state about five times). I can’t leave Australia as our borders are closed. I had to cancel my holiday in March two weeks before I was to go Phuket. I stay at the same small hotel owned by Thais. The staff are all local Thais.I go to local restaurants and street food outlets owned and operated by Thai families. So every Baht I spend, goes directly to the people and I am happy about that. I can understand the fear over an outbreak. It is the same here. But I think the secret lies in the mutual respect of the testing for Covid 19. If I am tested before I leave and found to be negative, thatneeds to be recognised by the destination country without the need for quarantine. I would willingly submit to a test on arrival and even quarantine until the results are known. But once the second test comes back negative, it should be a case of no further need to quarantine. On that basis, tourists would come. But the current plan of 14 day quarantine will not attract anyone. Please bear in mind that most people (from your key tourist markets) have 4 weeks holidays per year. Who will spend 14 days in quarantine in Thailand and then 14 days quarantine when they return home?? More time should be devoted to rapid testing technology that is 99.8% accurate. Rapid tests would reduce quarantine time. I have already apologised to the family who own the Hotel I stay at it Phuket. I watch events each day in Thailand and i hope that the Hotel will not close before I can return.

  10. Perceville Smithers

    Saturday, August 29, 2020 at 5:28 pm

    A lot of time spent thinking only foreign arrivals infecting Thais but the reverse can/will happen too. Will the taxi and hired car/van drivers at the airports be tested and cleared to pick up passengers? are they sanitizing the vehicle after each passenger?

    Would-be travelers are concerned about their health too.

  11. Natalia

    Saturday, August 29, 2020 at 6:35 pm

    TAT can keep their eye out for Maldives. Maldives, if reached by Qatar Airways (Emirates and Turkish ask for 72-hours test), imposed almost no restrictions, except you cannot change your island. No quarantine, no tests on island. But tourists don’t come, some resorts have never resumed their operations, some have reduced the price and are open, but half-empty.

    • Perceville Smithers

      Monday, August 31, 2020 at 2:09 am

      Maldives? People want to be active not lounge for another 3-4 days.

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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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