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Thailand News update | Travellers rushing to get into Thailand & mass tourist cancellations

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Cancellations are now starting to mount up for many tourism operators and hotels around the country as the extended suspension of the Test & Go program is starting to frame the situation for the remainder of what’s left for the high season.Pongsakorn Ketprapakorn, the president of the Tourism Council of Phangnga, told the Bangkok Post that around 60% of bookings in January from 36 Phangnga hotels have been cancelled. Similar rates of cancellation are being reported in places like Pattaya, Phuket and inner city Bangkok. In Krabi, it was reported to be around 30% at this time.Travel agents in northern European countries say they’re now pivoting travellers to other destinations in the region, such as Vietnam, Bali and the Maldives.Tourism operators in Thailand’s hotspots say, that unless Sandboxes can be established to replace the Test and Go program, then they are likely to completely lose the high season and have to wait until the end of the year for any new waves of tourists.As the future of the Thailand reopening hangs in the balance, travellers rushed to get into the country before the doors are pulled shut any further. Russia led the entries into the Kingdom with a few other surprises making the top 10 list. 32,627 people have entered the country this year, up to January 4.The CCSA has confirmed that they definitely don’t intend to reinstate the Test & Go programme at this stage. In typical Thai government fashion, the authorities are planning on deciding on the cut-off date for people already approved to enter under the program…. Here we are, just 4 days before the possible cut off date of January 10. That date was proposed by the health minister on Monday, and then given support by the Thai PM. It is highly likely that a final decision on these matters and dates will be made tomorrow at the CCSA meeting.An estimated 100,000 travellers are waiting down to the wire to find out if their booked tickets and travel plans for arrival to Thailand between January 10 and January 31 will go to waste, with many non-refundable arrangements in jeopardy. In order of the most tourists arriving since the start of January, they are from Russia, Sweden, Germany, the UK, the US, France and Kazakhstan. Yes, Kazakhstan.The main city district of Chon Buri province is the latest location to come under strict Covid restrictions for food and beverage outlets. The order was first enacted in Pattaya, last Saturday night, requiring daily testing of all employees, and that every customer at any restaurant has to have a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours every time they go out in the area.It has now been put into operation in other areas including Bang Lamung and Nong Prue, with basically the same rules as first enacted in Pattaya. The rules are now being enforcement in Mueang Chon Buri after a Covid-19 cluster was uncovered in a group of university students.Students at the Burapha University in the main city area were diagnosed with Covid infections. 17 students that were either working in, or patrons of, local restaurants that sell alcohol, were infected with the virus.Dancers of Southern Thailand’s traditional folk dance are asking the governor of Trang, a coastal province along the Andaman Sea, to allow them to perform. Due to disease control measures in place over the past eight months, Nora dancers haven’t been allowed to perform and now say they are struggling financially.Dressed in their colourful Nora costumes, the dancers gathered to hand a letter to the governor of Trang, asking for measures to be lifted to allow them to perform. Some held up signs reading “Bring Nora back” and “Nora performers also have hearts, let us perform.”The deputy governor of Trang province received the letter from the group and promised to bring the topic to a meeting today. The protest leader says they will rally again if they still can’t perform by Friday.In regional travel news, following the resumption of 11 flights by the local Civil Aviation Administration last weekend, Vietnam welcomed a total of 1,753 travellers on the first three days from January 1 to 3. Travellers have been landing at Tan Son Nhat, Noi Bai, Da Nang, and Can Tho international airports.The flights were operated by four Vietnamese airlines including Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air, Bamboo Airways, and Pacific Airlines, as well as seven international carriers, including Thai Vietjet of Thailand, Singapore Airlines of Singapore, Turkish Airlines of Turkey, Starlux Airlines, and China Airlines of Taiwan, Emirates of the UAE, and Asiana Airlines of the South Korea.Vietnam is expected to have six more destinations in its second phase of international travel: Kuala Lumpur , Hong Kong, Paris, Frankfurt, Sydney, and Moscow.Meanwhile, Laos officially reopened to international tourists on January 1, and now the country has added another 14 countries to the Travel Green Zone scheme today, which allows fully vaccinated travellers to visit Laos with just a 24 hour quarantine at their hotel upon arrival.Countries approved for the Travel Green Zone scheme include….China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, France, United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, United States, Canada, and Australia. There’s other countries being added soon too. All the latest news on that story at thethaiger.comThose qualified to visit Laos must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 no less than 14 days prior to arrival with proof of a negative PCR test taken within the last 72 hours, along with other insurance and health provisions.Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte says he’ll never apologise for the deaths during his bloody war on drugs campaign where, according to government data reported by Reuters, around 6,200 drugs suspects were killed in police sting operations since Duterte took power in June 2016.The mercurial president said… “I will never, never apologise for the deaths… Kill me. Jail me. I will never apologise for the deaths.”During the speech, he also vowed to defend law enforcement officers who he said, were just doing their jobs, encouraging them to fight back if their lives are threatened. Human rights activists, on the other hand, say the thousands of suspects were executed, without trial.Although he will not be able to run for re-election next year, according to the Filipino constitution, electing his ally in the upcoming election will shield Duterte from legal consequences related to his anti-narcotics campaign.Last September, the International Criminal Court launched an investigation into alleged human rights violations during Duterte’s drug crackdown.

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