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Tourists from Middle East put off Thailand due to bureaucracy, costs of Covid tests

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An Emirates aircraft at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport. PHOTO: Flickr/Rattaphol Kerdkaen

The Tourism Authority of Thailand says the high cost of Covid-19 tests, coupled with Certificate of Entry bureaucracy, is proving a deterrent for tourists from the Middle East. According to a Bangkok Post report, Chaiwat Tamthai from the TAT’s Dubai office says would-be tourists from the Middle East are in favour of the Phuket sandbox concept, but put off by everything it entails.

“Feedback from tourists about the Phuket sandbox is positive, but applying for the COE and expensive PCR tests remain obstacles.”

According to Chaiwat, the cost of a PCR test in the United Arab Emirates is between 200 and 300 baht. In Thailand, tourists are charged 8,000 baht for a mandatory 3 tests in 14 days. He adds that 5,000 Middle Eastern tourists visited Phuket in July, the first month of the sandbox. This dropped to 2,000 in August, due to a tightening of regulations and the start of a new school term in the Middle East.

According to the Bangkok Post report, Chaiwat believes that if no changes are made to the current travel requirements, visitors from the Middle East will reach 20,000 during the last quarter of the year. However, if some of the measures could be relaxed, Thailand could see 100,000 visitors from the Middle East between the last quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022.

From October to March of next year, Dubai will host the World Expo and Chaiwat says his office will have a marketing booth at the event, with the aim of attracting 10% of Expo visitors to Thailand. Phuket will be promoted as the key destination for 2022, due to its sandbox programme and the Dubai TAT office will focus on wealthy individuals interested in yachting and golf. Chaiwat is hopeful that tourist numbers from the Middle East could reach 200,000 in 2022.

For more information on how to get into Thailand during the pandemic, CLICK HERE.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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