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Thai government says tourism-dependent locations will get high priority in vaccination drive

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PHOTO: Willy Thuan/phuket101.net

The government’s Covid-19 task force says places like Phuket and Pattaya, which are heavily reliant on international tourism, will be considered “high priority” for vaccination. The Pattaya News reports that Apisamai Srirangsan, assistant spokesperson for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, made the announcement at a press conference yesterday.

The southern island of Phuket – along with a number of other tourism-dependent locations – had been hoping to purchase vaccines privately, in order to inoculate enough of its residents to achieve herd immunity. It was hoped that this would mean the island could re-open to international tourists from October. However, the government has put a stop to the plan, in a move that generated furious criticism from the tourism sector.

Places like Phuket and Pattaya are nearly entirely dependent on tourism, with both listed in the top 20 most-visited cities in 2019. Each welcomed around 10 million visitors a year, with Pattaya relying on tourism for nearly 80% of its GDP. In Phuket, that figure is more like 90%.

Apisamai says that, while frontline medical workers and other vulnerable people remain first in line for Covid-19 vaccines, employees in the tourism sector will also be classed as “high priority” for vaccination. However, the details of the government’s planned vaccine rollout remain unclear, nor is it yet known if expats, many who would fall into the vulnerable category, will be included.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

 

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