Pata calls for urgent vaccination strategy

Pata calls for urgent vaccination strategy

Current jab progress stands at only 0.82%

A closed restaurant due to the coronavirus disease outbreak, is seen next to the Chao Phraya river with a view of Wat Arun temple, one of the city's top tourist spots, in Bangkok, in March last year. (Reuters photo)
A closed restaurant due to the coronavirus disease outbreak, is seen next to the Chao Phraya river with a view of Wat Arun temple, one of the city's top tourist spots, in Bangkok, in March last year. (Reuters photo)

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (Pata) is calling for an urgent mass inoculation programme in Thailand and pushing the government to adopt digital vaccination certificates that are recognised by the international community.

“The vaccination rate needs to be at least 10 times faster than the current rate,” said Mario Hardy, Pata’s chief executive.

As of Monday, Thailand had inoculated only 0.82% of its 69.8 million population, ranking eighth out of 10 Asean countries, according to Our World in Data by the University of Oxford.

Procuring more vaccines from various manufacturers is necessary, along with adding vaccination centres in every province and cities nationwide to ensure a swift rollout, he said.

Mr Hardy said the new wave may also affect the country’s reopening, which means the government must double down on inoculation.

He said there was no point discussing travel bubbles while the country’s vaccination campaign has barely started as commercial air travel requires traffic from both countries.

If most of the locals are not vaccinated, other countries might be reluctant to open borders with Thailand.

However, vaccinations alone are not adequate to help revive the industry. The government has to also implement testing procedures for tourists and issue digital vaccination passports which are globally accepted.

“The authorities must implement a digital record of vaccinations as soon as possible before the majority of Thai citizens and residents are all vaccinated,” Mr Hardy said.

On Tuesday, the Royal Gazette published the official physical format of the Covid-19 certificate of vaccination for Thais who have been vaccinated to use to travel overseas.

He said key factors to restart international travel requires a good handle on Covid-19 cases in both origin and destination countries, a high level of vaccinations, no quarantine and an agreement between both countries on border protocols.

China, including Hong Kong and Macau, Singapore, the Maldives and Sri Lanka are among the countries that showed strong tourism recovery in Asia while most other destinations are also at a similar level.

Meanwhile, Thailand expects to face a slow recovery this year, depending on vaccination rates as well as the risk tolerance from the government and locals to reopening the country.

Mr Hardy said the government also has to communicate about ongoing developments it is doing to create a safe environment for the country’s reopening in order to convince the local community.



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