Hoteliers urge state to utilise decree to speed up vaccines
Hoteliers are pressing the government to speed up the sluggish Covid-19 vaccination programme by using an emergency decree to put the entry process in the fast track and setting July as the earliest date to reopen.
William Heinecke, founder and chairman of Minor International (MINT), said the government had already missed the opportunity to secure a Covax vaccine-sharing scheme earlier, while having limited vaccine resources of Sinovac and AstraZeneca. While there was a plan for the latter to be manufactured in Thailand, it has not yet started.
In order to enable a quicker move, the Food and Drug Administration has to quickly approve more vaccines at reasonable prices.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha should deploy the power under the emergency decree to allow companies to import vaccines and administer them to the public.
"The government failed to inspire the public to take the vaccine and left them with negative feelings towards the vaccine," Mr Heinecke said.
Tourism is expected to see a recovery in 2022 at the earliest or until 2023, depending on how fast the government can boost herd immunity as most countries in the region are ahead of Thailand.
"We will lose tourism trade to Vietnam, Hong Kong and Singapore because they have more efficient vaccination programmes," he said.
Mr Heinecke added that the hotel business in Europe will comeback faster than Thailand as the vaccination pace is quicker and acceptance rates are higher.
Meanwhile, Thirayuth Chirathivat, chief executive of Centara Hotels and Resorts, said the government has to roll out a concrete roadmap on vaccination and ensure that timeline is followed, as well as draw up a roadmap to bring back tourists.
Speaking at the Thailand Tourism Forum 2021 yesterday, he said the European market normally takes six months for advanced booking, so the country has to introduce guidelines by April or May to welcome them in the last quarter as planned.
He said the proof of vaccination has to be digitalised in a one-stop application to facilitate tourists instead of paperwork which might push tourists to other destinations.
"We have to compete with other countries to attract tourism as everyone has been beaten to zero," Mr Thirayuth said.
The reopening scheme in October is not soon enough for hoteliers as 50% of hotel workers have lost their jobs, said Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of the Thai Hotels Association.