Bangkok prepares testing protocols as reopening looms

Bangkok prepares testing protocols as reopening looms

Bangkok prepares testing protocols as reopening looms
Crowds return to the check-in counter at Suvarnabhumi airport after the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand allowed airlines to operate flights at full capacity last week. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

With the Nov 1 reopening looming, Bangkok is preparing protocols for testing tourists outside the airport, at hotels or 'swab hubs' to avoid congestion on arrival.

Thapanee Kiatphaibool, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) deputy governor for domestic marketing, said swab tests for travellers will be conducted outside the airport to disperse the flow of tourists with travellers transferred via hotel limousines to SHA Plus hotels which have partner hospitals or swab hubs.

Swab hubs, organised by the Thai Hotels Association (THA), will be established as a centres for small hotels which could be places like hospitals or alternative quarantine facilities.

While waiting for the result, all arrivals are required to stay in their hotel room during the first night.

Ms Thapanee said over 300 hotels are waiting for SHA Plus approval which should be ready by the end of this week.

The TAT will help trial the standard operating procedures at Suvarnabhumi airport on Oct 25.

"Bangkok's reopening will proceed as scheduled on Nov 1, so all related parties have to tie up any loose ends before the reopening," Ms Thapanee said.

As of Oct 19, Bangkok's vaccination rate was 70.63% of 7.9 million people were fully vaccinated, according to the Public Health Ministry's vaccine dashboard.

The TAT already launched a marketing strategy to attract tourists, particularly businessmen, long stay and wellness markets.

She said there is tourism demand and international flights for next month as Bangkok is the gateway to the country.

The proprietors of family-run Rajata Hotel in Bangkok’s Bang Lamphu area near Khaosan Road describe the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the business. (Video: Jetjaras Na Ranong and Saritdet Marukatat)

Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, THA president, said RT-PCR tests should be controlled to the same standard with less expensive prices to attract more tourists.

She said hoteliers started to see forward bookings in December, mostly from markets that don't have to undergo quarantine on their return.

Around 60-70% of 940 hotels in Bangkok are reopened, compared to only 50% during the peak of the recent wave, mainly attributed to the country's reopening and the resumption of domestic Mice (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) events.

According to the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau more than 1,000 Mice groups, generating 250 million baht, are scheduled for October-December.

Mrs Marisa said the occupancy rate for Bangkok hotels is estimated to increase from 20% this month to 30% in November.

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