Empty chairs are seen on a beach which is usually full of tourists, amid fears of the coronavirus in Phuket, Thailand, March 11, 2020. Photo by Reuters.
Thai authorities said they are considering travel bubbles with some Asian countries and territories, including Vietnam, so that international tourism could resume possibly in October.
Once Covid-19 community transmission is under control, the Thai government would resume travel bubble discussions with Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Laos, and Malaysia, Bangkok Post newspaper quoted Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn as saying.
“We have to speed up inoculations, particularly in Bangkok, to achieve herd immunity by the fourth quarter. The number of daily infections should be below 200 by the end of this month to restore international tourism confidence.”
No country wants to have a travel bubble discussion with Thailand when it still has a high rate of infection, he noted.
The minister added it would be easier for Thailand to create travel bubbles with Laos and Vietnam as they share a border.
Thailand was Vietnam’s fastest growing tourist market before the pandemic, with the number of visitors from that country rising by 46 percent in 2019 year-on-year to 509,000. Vietnam received 18 million foreign arrivals in 2019.
Many Thai investors have also been eyeing the Vietnamese market in recent years.
Travel bubbles are an exclusive partnership between two or more countries/territories that allows travel between them amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Vietnam stopped all international commercial flights in March 2020. Visitors entering the country since then have mainly been experts, high-tech workers, and investors.
The country has been struggling with the fourth coronavirus wave since April 27, with 412 cases found in 26 localities, mostly in the northern and central regions.
Thailand has been dealing with a surge in domestic infections in recent months, with its infection tally rising to 83,375 and deaths to 399.