BANGKOK (Xinhua) — The Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) on Thursday submitted an open letter to Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Ministry to allow the entry of Chinese tourists by January under the travel bubble scheme.
The scheme will allow the entry of tourists without the need for a 14-day mandatory quarantine.
ATTA president Vichit Prakobgosol on Thursday said Thailand has the potential to create travel bubbles with China thanks to the long and firm relationship between the two countries and the ability to curb the COVID-19 outbreak.
He said there are currently some low-risk provinces in China that have reported no new local cases for more than 150 days.
“However, out of precautionary measures, all tourists should continue to wear face masks during trips, download a tracking application and use services from operators that received the tourism safety standard of Safety and Health Administration (SHA),” said Vichit.
If Thailand can successfully set travel bubbles with China, the agency estimates that the country will have at least 300,000 travelers per month and generate tourism income of more than 15 billion baht (495.7 million U.S. dollars), said Vichit.
Vichit warned that if Thai borders remain closed with no new international arrivals by the first quarter next year, around 2 million workers in the tourism supply chain will lose their jobs.
“The COVID-19 vaccine is likely to take until the middle of next year at the earliest to be successful,” Vichit said. “Thai tourism-related businesses can not wait for too long as they are already reeling from financial pain.”
Vichit said ATTA and other tourism associations have made an appointment with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in November to discuss the travel bubbles plan this month.
Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said he did not have a problem with Atta’s proposal.
“The first few groups of Chinese tourists arrivals posed no threat whatsoever,” said the minister.
All of them tested negative for COVID-19 and have completed their 14-day quarantine and are now out in the sun to enjoy Thailand, said the minister.
According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, foreign tourist arrival numbers nearly hit 40 million in Thailand last year. The major revenue came from short-haul markets in Asia, with almost 10 million arriving from China.
However, with some international travel restrictions still in place, 93 percent of the tourists are currently Thais.