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5 provinces may delay reopening until November, Chiang Mai cautious

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Of the 5 provinces, Chiang Mai is especially cautious about reopening. (tawatchai07/freepik)

Despite some local leaders pushing hard and claiming readiness to reopen on October 1, several or all of the 5 provinces scheduled to reopen may be delayed until November 1, with Chiang Mai especially cautious about reopening. The deputy director for communications and marketing at the Tourism Authority of Thailand pointed out that the reopening plan can only go ahead in provinces where 70% of the population has been vaccinated.

The TAT recently held a meeting with the Public Health Ministry in a working group to assess the situation surrounding reopening before the proposal was formally submitted to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration. The group had concerns over the vaccination levels in the provinces, as well as the Covid-19 situation throughout Thailand, with daily infections still over 10,000.

Tourism officials pushed for October 1 to be the reopening date for Chiang Mai, Chon Buri, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, and Bangkok, but the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration says no plans have been approved or even thoroughly evaluated.

Pattaya City’s mayor announced that they were ready for the reopening though prepared to accept a delay. But Bangkok’s mayor already insisted they will not be reopening until infection and hospitalisation numbers decrease and vaccinations numbers increase. Now only 30% of the province’s 60,000 hotel rooms are open for business while others wait for the programme to restart.

Chiang Mai has been particularly cautious about reopening as the winter months are traditionally much more popular with domestic tourists than international ones. They have focused on the domestic market as the third phase of the We Travel Together hotel subsidising programme is set to continue in October.

Foreign travellers are expected to start to return when international flights resume to Chiang Mai in January of next year as long as demand is there for flights to operate. Korean golfers are expected to bolster international tourism to the region.

Until then, Chiang Mai will cautiously reopen using the 7+7 extension program connected to the Phuket Sandbox at first to test the waters, whether on October 1 or November 1.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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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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