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Call for Covid boosters before wave of Chinese tourism | Thailand News Today

Thai baht and Singapore dollar battle for strongest regional currency

China is reopening its borders, pushing economists to predict that an influx of Chinese tourists to Thailand will propel the Thai baht into Southeast Asia’s reigning currency in 2023.

But the baht has one regional competitor: the trusty Singapore dollar.

Thailand’s economy heavily depends on tourism revenue. In 2019, Chinese tourists made up over 40% of the 40 million tourist arrivals in the kingdom.

Beijing’s strict zero-Covid policy kept Chinese tourists away from Thailand for three years, devastating the Thai economy, but things are finally changing.

If December inflation numbers reveal that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is rising as economists predict, the baht could get a nice head start in the race to be the region’s strongest currency.

The Bank of Thailand expects to keep hiking interest rates in the next six months. All currencies in the region are expected to appreciate against the US dollar amid decelerated interest rate hikes from the US Federal Reserve.

The Singaporean dollar was the only currency to appreciate against the US dollar last year, making it a strong competitor in the region.

Singapore is also expected to benefit from China’s reopening, but it is the predicted downfall of several other major regional currencies that makes it a real rival of the Thai baht.

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Call for Covid boosters before wave of Chinese tourism

To prepare for an influx of Chinese tourists, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is encouraging all employees in the tourism sector to get a Covid-19 booster shot.

China has experienced a giant wave of infections since it abandoned its zero-Covid policy but the mainland still intends to open its borders to allow citizens to travel abroad next week.

Many people are wary that this may usher in a new major outbreak of coronavirus infections in Thailand and surrounding countries.

To be safe, TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn is calling on all workers employed by tourism businesses to get a Covid booster. Anyone who works in a hotel, especially as reception staff, or as a driver or tour guide for example is encouraged to be safe as they will be near many tourists, including Chinese travellers.

He also reminded everyone that Safety and Health Administration standards set out to certify hotels and restaurants during the pandemic must be strictly adhered to.

At the end of this year, the target of 10 million tourists was met and surpassed with around 11.5 million foreign travellers arriving in Thailand in 2022. The government has set a 2023 goal of at least 50% more tourists this year.

The National Committee for Communicable Diseases is saying that travellers coming in from China will be required to have health insurance as well as a Covid vaccine proof. They previously reassured eager tourists that arrivals from China will not be required to take a Covid test in the airport, saying that risk was still at manageable levels.

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TikTok video of nurses drinking in hospital spurs investigation

Officials responded after TikTok videos went viral showing nurses in a hospital drinking and partying. The hospital was not named but the Thailand Nursing and Midwifery Council (TNMC) announced that they were launching a probe into the incident after several video clips were uploaded to the popular social media app.

The video has since been removed, but many shocked and outraged people online saved the clip and circulated it on other social media as well. The videos feature nurses at an unidentified hospital, later confirmed to be in Ayutthaya province, in what appears to be a break room.

In the video, the nurses are celebrating at a small holiday party on shift – later confirmed to have taken place at 5 pm on December 30. They can be seen dancing, drinking from beer bottles and pouring what looks like whiskey into plastic cups to share. In total, three videos were posted to TikTik, though now deleted. One clip had a message in the caption.

The TNMC took quick action after the embarrassing video got traction and went viral.

The director of the hospital announced that 17 medical personnel involved in the party have been suspended from work.

The hospital has also issued a public apology for the incident and the staff’s inappropriate behaviour. The nurses in the video have also expressed regret.

The party and nurses behaving badly was not just inappropriate though – it was illegal. The Alcoholic Beverage Act prohibits selling or consuming liquor in a hospital.

The presence of alcohol on the premises could put the hospital at risk of fines and punishment. Drinking alcohol in a government or medical facility can carry a fine of up to 10,000 baht and is even punishable by up to one month in prison.