Thai travel leaders urge re-opening by July

DMCs join forces with hotel groups in launching Open Safely campaign as vaccines offer hopes of recovery

LEADING international tourism companies in Thailand have launched a campaign to reopen the country’s borders from July 1.

The #OpenThailandSafely campaign was launched with the support of 16 companies including YAANA Ventures, Asian Trails, Capella Hotels and Resorts, EXO and Minor Hotels whose CEO, William Heinecke, tops the list of petition signatories.

The petition is open to anyone in Thailand or around the world who would like to see the country reopen, said a spokesman for the campaign.

William Heinecke

The campaign argues that July 1 is an appropriate date for five reasons: the majority of citizens in many source markets will have been vaccinated by then; it gives time to Thai medical authorities to vaccinate both front line staff in hospitality settings in Thailand and/or vulnerable citizens around the country; it gives international travellers time to make travel plans and bookings; the date gives time to airlines, hotels, tour operators and others to start marketing and sales and get ready for tourism operations to commence; and it will take Thailand at least a year, and maybe longer, to return to the large numbers of international visitors that it had before the Covid-19 crisis.

To ensure the safe reopening of Thailand, the petition argues that “international tourists can be asked to satisfy any safeguards the Thai Government may require. This may, for example, include showing officially recognised proof of a Covid-19 vaccination from their home country, purchasing health insurance, showing proof of a negative Covid test within 72 hours of departure, and so on.”

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#OpenThailandSafely was the initiative of leading Bangkok-based private sector travel companies YAANA Ventures, Minor Group and Asian Trails.

Willem Niemeijer

“The July reopening would be a strategic opportunity for Thailand to show a leadership role among Asian countries and prepare the way for a solid recovery of the Thai economy in 2022,” Willem Niemeijer, CEO of YAANA Ventures, said.

Campaign organisers are sending requests to Thailand Prime Minister, General Prayut Chan-o-cha; the Minister of Tourism and Sports, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, and the Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Yuthasak Supasorn.

According to the Bank of Thailand and official sources in Thailand, tourism, pre-Covid, was worth about 2.9 trillion baht (US$96.5 billion). Some 39.7 million international visitors in 2019 helped sustain up to 8.3 million jobs. However, arrivals fell to 6.7 million in 2020 making between two and four million people unemployed.

Organisers point to Seychelles, Maldives, Greece and Sri Lanka as destinations that have either opened borders already or are in discussions to do so in light of successful Covid vaccine rollouts in their key source markets.

Further details about petition to open Thailand by July 1 can be accessed here.

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