tirsdag 12. oktober 2021

Covid threat looms over Thailand's plans to open up to tourists

Back in mid-June, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha surprised everyone by promising to reopen the country to foreign tourists by October. The time had come, he said, to take that calculated risk. At the time, few took him seriously. Thailand had zealously guarded its borders, imposing quarantine and mountains of paperwork on all arrivals since April last year.

Foreign tourism, once an engine of the Thai economy, collapsed. Just over 70,000 came into the country in the first eight months of this year, compared to 40 million in the whole of 2019. Covid-19 was successfully contained through most of 2020, but by June this year infections were rising quickly, and the government was being roundly criticised for being too slow to start vaccinating. Opening up in October seemed impossible.

But true to his word, the great reopening appears to have begun, albeit with only very modest steps. The night-time curfew has been shortened by an hour, starting at 10pm, and libraries and museums can open.,You can visit a spa, but only with advanced booking and a recent negative Covid test.