Firms eye jabs as national agenda

Firms eye jabs as national agenda

Tourism industry would be priority

Tourists queue to check in for their flights at Suvarnabhumi airport. JSCCIB proposes people working in the tourism industry should be the first priority for vaccination. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Tourists queue to check in for their flights at Suvarnabhumi airport. JSCCIB proposes people working in the tourism industry should be the first priority for vaccination. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) suggests the government make Covid-19 vaccination a national agenda, with the tourism sector the first to receive vaccines as soon as July.

People working in the tourism industry should be receive in the first priority grouping as protecting them against the highly contagious virus should help restore the economy, JSCCIB member and chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries Supant Mongkolsuthree said on Wednesday.

They need protection as their jobs require them to meet and serve both Thai and foreign travellers.

To make the vaccination a national agenda, "JSCCIB wants the government to come up with a vaccine distribution management plan for its manpower to offer daily shots," said Mr Supant.

Mingkwan Metmowlee, president of the Asean Tourism Association, said the government should consider a vaccine cost subsidy based on the urgency of each tourism-related occupation.

She said independent tour guides are frontline workers who have to welcome and have close contact with tourists, and should be the first group to receive free vaccination from the government because they do not have a large company able to help cover the expenditure.

For some hotels that still earn revenue, such as alternative state quarantine facilities, they can be responsible for their own costs, said Ms Mingkwan.

The vaccine cost for workers could be added to service costs charged to guests, she said.

Thai Spa Association president Krod Rojanastien said the government should allocate Covid-19 vaccines to Thai workers in the hospitality sector with a full subsidy, as frontline workers in this industry need at least 5 million doses.

But for foreign workers in these companies, which usually make up no more than 10% of the workforce, employers are willing to pay for the jabs themselves, he said.

However, if the government could help with some of the cost, it would be a good initiative for the tourism industry, said Mr Krod.

JSCCIB also supports providing vaccinated Thais "vaccine passports" as proof to facilitate travel domestically and overseas.

"We are confident vaccine passports will help improve the economy," said Mr Supant.

The group suggested the government encourage employers to sponsor vaccination for migrant workers in exchange for a tax reduction.

These workers should also be given the vaccines from July, said JSCCIB.

Thai Chamber of Commerce chairman Kalin Sarasin said the chamber wants the government to help 1,800 hotels that could not access soft loans during the two Covid-19 outbreaks.

"JSCCIB is worried these hotels will lay off their workers because they are mostly medium to small hotels that cannot afford to pay operation costs, including salaries," he said.

The committee is monitoring the situation in Myanmar as European countries and the US may impose economic sanctions following the coup.

JSCCIB said the political conflict in Myanmar will affect trade and investment in the country.

Last year Thailand recorded total investment value of US$1.2 billion in Myanmar. Since 2005, Thailand has invested $12 billion, mostly in oil, gas, mining and infrastructure projects.



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