Thailand opening borders slightly in October, expecting 900 tourists monthly

Bangkok, 16 Sept 2020:

Thailand, a country which has so far managed to keep a check on the novel coronavirus, yesterday announced a plan to allow foreign tourists to enter the country from October onwards.

The Asian country, which has so far recorded less than 3,500 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 58 people deaths, will allow visitors from abroad  – on condition they undergo 14 days of quarantine.

The tourists, who have had been barred from entering the country during the last five months because of the pandemic, must undergo quarantine in a hotel set aside for this purpose or in a hospital, government deputy spokesperson Traisulee Traisoranakul said at a press conference.

The new tourist visa, of which some details remain to be finalised, can be applied for at Thai embassies and will allow a 90-day stay that can be extended by another three months with authorisation from the country’s immigration authorities.

With this plan, the authorities expect to receive about 900 tourists per month – which in turn would generate around 1.2 billion baht (about US$38.4 million) in revenue for the government.

The arrival of foreign tourists fell by 71% between January and July this year in Thailand, amounting to some 6.6 million travellers.

During the first seven months of the year, revenues from tourism fell by more than 70% to 332 million bahts compared to the same period in 2019.

The tourism sector is a major driver of Thailand’s economy and accounts for between 12% and 20% of its gross domestic product.

Thailand, the first country with Covid-19 cases outside China, completed 100 days without detecting any local infection on Sept 2.

However, the streak was broken the following day when an inmate who had just entered prison – and who had not travelled abroad recently – was found to have tested positive for the dreaded virus.

Authorities carried out hundreds of tests looking for possible infections among the more than 1,000 people who came into contact with the individual, who has not been named.

The 37-year-old had not travelled overseas since the start of the pandemic and was being treated at a prison hospital in Bangkok.

Since the start of the coronavirus crisis in February, the Southeast Asian country has detected a total of 3,480 Covid-19 infections with 58 deaths. There are currently 107 coronavirus patients under treatment.