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Safe and Sealed, to Replace the Travel Bubble Tourism in Thailand

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Thailand Tourism, Safe and Sealed

Tourism operators in Thailand are proposing a new inbound tourism plan, called Safe and Sealed, to replace, travel bubble tourism in Thailand. The new inbound plan is expected to draw at least 500,000 tourists to Thailand.

The Tourism and Sports Ministry and the private sector meeting chaired by Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, tourism-related groups offered a proposal to let inbound tourists restart their trips to Thailand in the fourth quarter. The plan envisages safer screening procedures tied with greater flexibility for many countries than the bilateral travel bubble scheme would have afforded.

Vichit Prakobgosol, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (Atta), said that while Thailand has started to welcome certain groups of foreigners, the total number will be less than 100,000 and cannot prevent tourism-related businesses from going bankrupt.

The new inbound plan is expected to draw at least 500,000 tourists to Thailand and generate 50 billion baht in revenue. The cost of the package would be Bt100,000 (US$3,200.00) per person. Double the average price of Bt 50,000 (US$1,600.00) per person prior to the covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Phiphat said the Safe and Sealed tourism scheme offers the last chance to help the majority of tourism businesses survive. Furthermore it will help avoid layoffs in the fourth quarter. Above all if Thailand continues to close its borders to international tourists.

Safe and Sealed tourism at designated hotels and provinces

“’Safe’ means we will select only guests from cites with a record of no infections for at least [the previous] 30 days. Tourists can travel under the ‘sealed’ conditions provided by tour operators. Tourism operators in designated hotels and provinces that agree to welcome those tourists,” he said.

Other screening processes are also required, such as an infection-free certificate 72 hours before flights. Even more insurance and swab tests, the Bangkok Post reported.

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor Yuthasak Supasorn said Mr Phiphat will forward the proposal to related organisations, including the idea of setting up a tourism fund to provide soft loans to the industry, which has struggled to secure loans from commercial banks.

Tourism businesses want the government to help start the fund with a 100-billion-baht budget.

Mr Yuthasak said employment in the tourism sector totalled 4 million workers before the outbreak.

As most operators have had zero revenue in the past six months, unemployment in the sector could grow to 2.5 million as businesses cannot bear more losses, he said.

The agency also shared its 2021 tourism scenario with representatives from the private sector.

The worst case sees Thailand earning only 675 billion baht in revenue, down 9% from this year’s estimated 742 billion baht — a plunge of 75% from the 3.01 trillion baht achieved in 2019.

If Thailand can gain momentum by receiving international tourists, the best case indicates that tourism revenue could recover to 50% of 2019 levels, or 1.52 trillion baht.

Only 50% of hotels have reopened in Thailand

The National Economic and Social Development Council previously set the Thai tourism target at 3.9 trillion baht for 2021. Mr Yuthasak said that goal has become a far-fetched ambition unless a vaccine is found.

Supawan Tanomkieatipume, Thai Hotels Association (THA) president, said the Thai hotel industry saw 30-40% of 1.5 million jobs disappear during the past six months, and just 50% of hotels have reopened.

She said the greatest burden for hotel operators is loan payments for investments made before the outbreak, an amount totaling roughly 700 billion baht.

Hotel operators are asking banks to extend the suspension period for principal and interest payments for an additional six months because tourism has not yet recovered.

Source: Bangkok Post