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The Great Bridge of China – the world’s longest sea-bridge opens

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The Great Bridge of China – the world’s longest sea-bridge opens | The Thaiger
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The world’s longest sea-crossing bridge, linking Hong Kong to mainland China, has opened today.

The opening is of immense economic and political significance for China, Hong Kong, the greater Pearl Delta and the region.

The Chinese President Xi Jinping presided over the ceremony in Zhuhai, next door to Macau, at the China end of the 54.7 kilometere-long bridge (Phuket, as a comparison, is 48 kilometres from northern to southern tip).

The new bridge links the semi-autonomous regions of Hong Kong and Macau. Digital fireworks exploded on a screen behind the Chinese leader as provincial leaders applauded.

The bridge has taken a decade to construct at a cost of US$20 billion. Along the way there have been delays and cost overruns. It provides the first physical connection between Hong Kong and mainland China. Hong Kong was ‘handed back’ to Chinese control in 1997 following a 100 year old ‘lease’. Hong Kong residents see the new bridge as a disturbing political symbol of greater interference and control in the previously autonomous economic zone.

Part of the new bridge includes an undersea tunnel which ships to pass over the top and continue to navigate the Pearl Delta, the heart of Chinese burgeoning trade and manufacturing hub and the most populous area in the world.

In the past its taken hours to cross the delta by ferry but now that will cut to 30 minutes. Chinese authorities say it will help to fuse the regions around the delta together and provide better options for local travel, trade and tourism.

Daily traffic is set to start tomorrow under a heavily controlled permit system.

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Thai tourism operators want to offer vaccination-inclusive packages

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Thai tourism operators want to offer vaccination-inclusive packages | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Post Today

Vaccination seems to be the great new hope of most of Thailand’s businesses battered by Covid-19, especially the tourism industry. Thai tour operators are now floating the idea of “vaccination tour packages” to attract inbound travellers after the first inoculations are distributed in February.

Sort of an STV with vaccination included.

The tourism plan is expected to potentially benefit those inbound tour operators, hotels and destinations that have been massively affected by Covid-19 restrictions.

The Tourism Council of Thailand president Chamnan Srisawat explains… “The one month tour packages are expected to cost 150,000 baht, including a 14 day quarantine in an alternative state quarantine or alternative local quarantine facility, and include a vaccination cost.”

The idea is, of course, still in the early stages and needs more discussions because there are still uncertainties of travel rules with vaccine certificates. The ‘idea’ also, again, targets the high end of the travel market that even the current STV has been unable to attract.

Chotechuang Soorangura, the NS Travel and Tour associate MD, speaking to the Bangkok Post, said… “Thailand is not considered a Covid vaccine hub as the country cannot produce a mass supply attracting a large volume of tourists. Most people would rather get inoculated in their own country before going abroad as they want to avoid being exposed to the virus while travelling.”

He also suggests that the country should instead promote itself as a “wellness destination and medical tourism hub” (a suggestion that has been made many, many times before).

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

The Thai government threw a tourist party (sound of crickets) | VIDEO

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The Thai government threw a tourist party (sound of crickets) | VIDEO | The Thaiger

The Thai Government, flushed with the success of their containment of Covid-19, decided to market the Land of Smiles to the world as the safe place to travel. With the annual wet season starting to weaken the tourists would flock back to the S E Asian country that had such a remarkable success containing, then almost eradicating itself, of the coronavirus.

Then they came up with the STV – the special tourist visa which would have the world’s eager travellers packing their sun cream for up to 270 days of Thai tourism.

There were promises of plane loads of tourists and even published flights and carriers. A few flights arrived, most didn’t.

In fact, since the start of the STV, the Special Tourist Visa, with its long list of restrictions and requirements, was floated, along with a re-vamped Tourist Visa, less than 400 people have arrived per month, on average, since the end of October. In the October and November of the year before more than 3 million people arrived in Thailand. Even the government’s limit of 1,200 new tourist arrivals per month was even slightly tested.

The government had bought all the streamers and a pretty new dress for the party but no one came.

What went wrong?

Where was the much-anticipated pent-up demand and people banging on the doors of the world’s Thai embassies?

It was the European winter and the ‘snowbirds’ would surely be back to soak in some Thai sun rays. But no.

The first problem was there wasn’t much for them to come back to. They would have the beaches of the islands all to themselves, they wouldn’t have to wait in line for anything, the domestic airlines were still selling low fares to Tavel anywhere around the country.

But otherwise there wasn’t a lot for them to do. The tourism magnets were a shadow of their former selves. Walking Street, Bangla Road, tours and tour boats, all the tourist strip restaurants. The buzz of the crowds was gone and more than 90% of the tourist-related business had closed up.

Their staff, their families, their bank loans, their stock and investments – all on hold and forced to find come other means to make ends meet. 931 of some of the larger official tourism operators have now gone out of business, according to Bloomberg News. There would be thousands of the smaller family operations that have also been swept aside by the Thai government’s responses to the world pandemic.

 

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Covid-19 travel pass to pilot on Etihad and Emirates Airways flights

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Covid-19 travel pass to pilot on Etihad and Emirates Airways flights | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Travel Daily

A travel pass for passengers inoculated against Covid-19 or who have tested negative will be piloted on flights for Dubai’s Emirates and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways. With the travel pass issued by the International Air Transport Association, passengers can keep control of their data and share their test results with airlines and authorities for travel.

The travel pass will be offered on selected flights from Abu Dhabi in the first quarter, and will expand the pass to other destinations of the trail is successful. Emirates is going to implement phase 1 of the travel pass in April for flights departing from Dubai.

Recently, the IATA travel pass programme has been also tested in International Airlines Group and Singapore Airlines.

SOURCE: Reuters

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