Govt urged to include Indians
The Indian community in Thailand is urging the government to allow Indians to visit the kingdom when it reopens to tourists on Nov 1, noting Indian couples and merchants can contribute to the economy.
Last week, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha announced Thailand will open the country to visitors considered at low risk of spreading Covid-19 from 46 countries, such as the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Sweden, starting Nov 1.
Under this plan, fully vaccinated visitors from these countries will not have to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
However, visitors from India are not on the list.
Satish Sehgal, chairman of the India-Thai businessmen association, has expressed concern over India's exclusion from the list.
He said the current quarantine measures which Indian travellers would have to endure when visiting the kingdom would drive them away to other destinations that do not require isolation.
"Indians of the Bharatas are one of the top five spenders who contribute to Thailand tourism and the world," Mr Sehgal said.
"They come to Thailand for leisure, organising wedding ceremonies and business. They have been contributing to Thailand's economy for a long time."
Thailand is a top wedding and honeymoon destination among wealthy Indians.
Before the pandemic, they organised lavish wedding ceremonies, inviting hundreds of guests to Thailand.
"The average spending for the marriage party among Indian hosts is millions of baht per person," Mr Sehgal said.
"This spending, especially during this festive season when the government aims to boost the national revenue, will help resurrect hotels and resorts after long slumbers. Besides, after the wedding, the guests travel around and spend a lot on food and goods."
"If they do not adjust the measure, Indians will change their marriage destination," Mr Sehgal said.
If Indian travellers were placed on the list, Indian merchants would come to buy goods in bulk in Thailand and contribute at least 1 million baht each to the national income, he said.
"I do not want Thailand to miss this opportunity to gain what they have lost economically for almost two years, and I am sure that they are looking forward to visiting us," Mr Sehgal said.
He said according to research last month among 7,500 Indians interested in Thailand's reopening, 60% of them said they would come to Thailand right away and the rest about two months after reopening.
Suchitra Durai, Indian Ambassador to Thailand, last month during an interview said India's exclusion from the list was acknowledged by the embassy and it was contacting Thailand's Foreign Affairs Ministry daily for clarification.
"We have contacted the ministry; even today we had a useful meeting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs," Ms Durai said.
"I had a meeting with tourism authority, the Ministry of Public Health.
"So we have constant interaction with all of them and we have shared with them all the details such as the vaccine rollout programme in India," Ms Durai said.
She said the Indian government has provided 1.02 billion doses to its people and about 40% have received two jabs.