Tourism firms want jab quota
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Tourism firms want jab quota

Alliance pushes expedited reopening

Eight tourism-related associations are calling for a concrete vaccination plan and a commitment to expedite the reopening process on July 1 for a quick economic recovery.

The tourism organisations submitted the requests to the Tourism and Sports Ministry to allocate Covid-19 vaccines for at least 70% of residents in Phuket or Koh Samui from April 15 to June 30.

Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of the Thai Hotels Association (THA), said the hospitality crisis may worsen if operators have to wait until October.

The parties joining forces comprise THA, the Tourism Council of Thailand, the Association of Thai Travel Agents (Atta), the Airlines Association of Thailand, the Thai Spa Association, the Pacific Asia Travel Association, the Board of Airline Representatives Business Association and the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

She said the government must work with the private sector to help import more vaccines and distribute them to 1 million hotel and airline workers by June.

Moreover, a clear roadmap and conditions for tourists to enter the country need to be announced.

The government should also approve the IATA travel pass, a digital health certificate for international travel, said Mrs Marisa.

Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, the tourism and sports minister, said the ministry already discussed with the Public Health Ministry distributing 925,000 doses in Phuket as part of a pilot scheme for a tourism sandbox.

Vaccinations on the island would take place from this month to May to prepare local communities before they start receiving international guests by July 1.

The sandbox model includes Pattaya and five nearby municipalities, which will need around 960,000 doses of vaccines.

It has not been settled as to whether there should be preventive measures for tourists within designated areas.

Mr Phiphat said Koh Samui might not be ready to welcome international tourists because the airport's runways are too short for jumbo aircraft landings. The current reopening model focuses on Phuket first.

"If the sandbox can operate as planned, the number of foreign arrivals this year may reach our goal of 6.5 million," he said.

The ministry plans to propose a vaccination plan today for tourism destinations and tourism sandbox protocols to the Center for Economic Situation Administration.

Mr Phiphat said vaccines can only be ordered for emergency use by governments, meaning Thailand has to wait until private companies are allowed to procure vaccines.

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