Vaccination packages mulled

Vaccination packages mulled

Tourists wear face masks upon arrival at Suvarnabhumi airport. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)
Tourists wear face masks upon arrival at Suvarnabhumi airport. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)

Tour operators have floated the idea of luring inbound travellers with vaccination tour packages after the first batch of inoculations are distributed to high-risk groups in February.

"After the vaccines arrive, we need a tourism plan by the second quarter this year to create more demand," said Chamnan Srisawat, Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) president.

The one-month tour packages are expected to cost 150,000 baht, including a 14-day quarantine in an alternative state quarantine or alternative local quarantine facility and vaccination costs.

The tourism plan aims to support inbound operators and hoteliers at major tourism destinations that still rely heavily on the international market after a long pause.

If the Food and Drug Administration approves private hospitals reserving more Covid-19 vaccines, tour operators can partner with hospitals to offer jabs for foreign travellers, he said.

Mr Chamnan said the idea is in the early stages of discussion and requires more consideration, such as the availability of vaccines in Thailand and a government determination of its likelihood.

"Tourism-related operators will not be able to stay afloat until mass vaccination programmes take place globally," he said.

"We still need financial relief from the government."

Soft loans, a one-year debt holiday and 50% co-payment of monthly salaries are measures operators submitted to the government to help protect tourism jobs.

Mr Chamnan said the council recently had a meeting with the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) to discuss future cooperation.

The TCT plans to offer special packages for FTI members when the new wave of infections is under control, as there are around 100,000 workers in the industrial segment who have the potential to help drive more domestic trips.

Chotechuang Soorangura, associate managing director of NS Travel and Tours, said there are still several uncertainties regarding travel rules with vaccine certificates that each country may require to prevent an outbreak.

In addition, Thailand is not considered a Covid vaccine hub as the country cannot produce a mass supply attracting a large volume of tourists.

"Most people would rather get inoculated in their own country before going abroad as they want to avoid being exposed to the virus while travelling," Mr Chotechuang said.

There is also not much demand for Covid vaccinations in Thailand.

The country should instead promote itself as a wellness destination for both tourists focused on health and well-being, as well as medical tourists seeking professional treatment in Thailand, he said.

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