Thailand is expected to suspend its mandatory quarantine for fully vaccinated tourists visiting the island of Phuket, starting this summer.
The country will also shorten its quarantine period from 14 days to 10 for people entering the country from abroad.
On Friday, a panel chaired by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha approved a proposal that will allow travelers who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus to visit Phuket without self-quarantine starting July 1.
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The plan calls for vaccinating 70% of Phuket residents before the island reopens to tourists in July. Those vaccinations are expected to begin in April.
The governor of Phuket and the COVID-19 Situation Management Center have yet to approve the proposal.
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Yuthasak Supasor, head of Thailand’s Tourism Authority, said the country could expand the reopening to other tourist spots, such as Samui Island, Krabi, Pattaya and Chiang Mai, in October if Phuket’s reopening is successful.
The country expects to receive around 100,000 tourists in the third quarter of this year.
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Earlier this month, tourism groups in Thailand launched a campaign calling on the government to allow fully vaccinated tourists into the country without quarantining from July 1.
According to a letter published with the campaign, Thailand’s tourism and related industries have been “decimated” by the closure of international travel to the country due to the pandemic.
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“The financial, social, physical and psychological health of Thais has been adversely affected,” the letter said. “The travel disruption has not only affected tourism, it has also divided families and significantly reduced international trade.”
“The current situation is unsustainable,” the letter adds.
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Before the pandemic, Phuket was the second most popular destination in the country after Bangkok. In 2019, it received around 10 million foreign tourists and generated 470 billion baht ($ 15 billion) in revenue.
According to the Phuket Hotel Association, more than 50,000 employees in its hotel sector lost their jobs last year.
Thailand’s economy was badly hit by the pandemic, but Prayuth said on Friday that thanks to his government’s financial stimulus package and vaccination plans, he is optimistic the country can achieve 4% GDP growth this year. , compared to a contraction of 6.1% in 2020.
Associated Press contributed to this report.