Locals pin hopes on travel bubble
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Locals pin hopes on travel bubble

Scheme favoured if strict regulations followed

Most Thais prefer the travel bubble scheme to have strict regulations for entry, but they would allow in more than 2,000 people a day because it would help revive the economy.

With Thailand set to reopen its borders to international leisure tourists in August at the earliest, public opinion towards the travel bubble plan is one component that the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration is considering before announcing a final draft, said Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor Yuthasak Supasorn.

The TAT and the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) released poll results yesterday from 3,000 local residents and tour operators in eight tourism provinces.

A majority of locals (82.9%) agree with the principle of limited entry under a travel bubble scheme, while 87.2% of tour operators in those provinces agreeing with reopening with some restrictions.

Some 74% of locals agree with travel bubbles if the government can impose strict regulations and have specific criteria that assure them about the screening process, such as requiring a health certificate (free of Covid-19) 72 hours before arrival and temperature checks at the place of origin, and not visiting risky countries 14 days before arrival.

Most of them prefer to have an initial number for the pilot project larger than 2,000 persons per day, as they have the impression that international travellers set to come via this scheme will help boost the economy.

"Even though the previous opinion survey from other agencies showed that Thais don't want foreign tourists to return soon, we have to acknowledge that this survey was different because we specified the questions towards stringent travel bubble rules that could be used in the initial phase," Mr Yuthasak said. "So people understood more about the elaborate plan that will assure health safety in the country."

He said the Tourism Ministry and the TAT already talked with the Office of Insurance Commission about additional requirements for foreigners to buy Covid-19 insurance from insurance firms in Thailand.

The two parties have yet to reach a conclusion on the price of the insurance package, saying the range being discussed is between 400 and 1,000 baht. But the Tourism Ministry would like to lower the price to accommodate foreign tourists.

Meanwhile, the TAT and the Finance Ministry yesterday launched tourism stimulus packages that are expected to spur 700 billion baht in spending in the economy.

Lavaron Sangsnit, director-general of the Fiscal Policy Office, said the scheme operates on a first-come, first-served basis, as local tourists have to finish both registration and booking transactions to receive the benefit.

The tourism stimulus measures will subsidise 40% of 5 million nights of hotel stays, limited to 3,000 baht per night for up to five nights.

Each hotel room reservation can also book two air tickets with a 40% discount on 2 million air tickets, with the discount limited to 1,000 baht per seat.

Eligible users will also get a 600 baht e-voucher upon check-in to be used at restaurants or tourism sites in any province except for their own.

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