Thailand plans to reopen Bangkok and other key destinations to foreign tourists next month with aims to revive its travel industry after it has been bruised by the pandemic. According to Nikkei Asia, Thailand’s annual tourist industry revenues plunged 71 percent last year and have fallen 74 percent year on year during the first six months this year. Tourism and related business accounted to roughly 20 percent of annual gross domestic product in pre-Covid times.

Government spokesperson, Thanakorn Wangboonkongchan said that Bangkok, Hua Hin, Pattaya and Chiang Mai will be added to a programme in which fully vaccinated visitors undergo a series of tests are allowed to under, under certain criteria.

The scheme is already underway on the island of Samui and Phuket. Initially, visitors are allowed to enter without the need to quarantine themselves when it was announced in June. However, the plan was questioned after new daily infections soared to as high as 23,000 in August, with record fatalities on many days.

However, Bangkok’s reopening would be partial, starting with areas popular with visitors, Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn told Reuters. Yuthasak is targeting 1 million visitors to Thailand this year, compared to nearly 40 million in 2019. Nearly 88,000 have been recorded so far, with a third of them went to Phuket, which opened in July. 

Nonetheless, with only 34 percent of Bangkok residents fully vaccinated so far and just 15 percent of people nationwide are fully vaccinated, the October reopening might face obstacle.

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