The president of the Tourism Council of Chiang Mai is hoping a ramp-up of vaccination efforts will help combat a surge in Covid-19. Punlop Saejew says health officials are pulling out all the stops in a bid to get the northern province ready for the November 1 re-opening.
“The current clusters have affected local confidence towards re-opening. Everyone is working hard to flatten the curve by preparing beds for critically ill patients and ramping up vaccinations.”
According to a Bangkok Post report, Chiang Mai has around 30% of hospital beds available. However, the provincial communicable disease committee says beds for critically ill patients are at 95% occupancy. Punlop says over 51% of residents have received their first vaccine dose, with over 35% fully vaccinated. The province has the capacity to administer up to 20,000 doses a day. According to Punlop, officials are focusing on fresh markets as the source of major infection clusters.
Punlop says tourism operators are focusing their marketing campaigns on the 46 low-risk countries approved for the November 1 re-opening. For those that didn’t make the list, the Chiang Mai sandbox model remains an option, but tourists will have to purchase tour packages limited to the districts of Mueang, Mae Rim, Mae Taeng, and Doi Tao. They must also stay 7 days before they can travel elsewhere in the kingdom. Punlop says the sandbox model is designed with golfers from Vietnam, Indonesia, and India in mind, but he acknowledges the revenue generated may not compare to the quarantine-free option.
Meanwhile, La-Iad Bungsrithong from the Thai Hotels Association says the province is unlikely to see any Chinese visitors before next February, as China continues to pursue a zero-Covid strategy. She believes the growth rate of international arrivals in Chiang Mai in the first half of next year will remain in single digits. However, she expects a 30% increase in domestic travel during the peak season this year and in early 2022.
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SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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