Thailand is in talks with China to establish a quarantine-free travel corridor by January to rescue its ailing tourism industry.
The agreement with Beijing will be subject to the success of a limited reopening of the Thai tourism industry to foreign travelers this month, according to Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn. China, which accounted for more than a quarter of Thailand’s tourist arrivals before the pandemic, will be the first low-risk country the Southeast Asian nation will sign up for quarantine-free travel, he said.
The current mandatory quarantine will be replaced by coronavirus testing and a mobile tracking application for the Chinese visitors if the return of foreign tourists does not lead to fresh Covid-19 outbreaks, Phiphat said. About 11 million Chinese holidaymakers visited Thailand in 2019, netting the country about $17 billion, official data show.
Top contributors to Thailand’s $62 billion tourism economy in 2019
“China has about 800 million people in 22 provinces that have been free from infections,” Phiphat said. “If we can attract even just 1% of those people to travel here, that would already be plenty.”
The first group of visitors from China under a previously announced long-term tourist visa program will arrive in Bangkok on Oct. 20, the minister said. The government expects to issue about 1,200 visas a month under the program to help the industry that’s reeling from no foreign tourists arrivals for five months in a row.
“Thais don’t have enough money to boost the industry, so either way we have to find a way to bring in foreign tourists,” Phiphat said. “If we don’t receive any foreign tourists, our economy will suffer a heavy contraction.”
Read the full article at Bloomberg: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-15/thailand-chases-travel-bubble-pact-with-china-to-boost-tourism