First STV arrivals due next week
Two groups of Chinese tourists with Special Tourist Visas (STV) will arrive in Thailand on Oct 20 and 26, Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn has confirmed.
The first group of 120 STV foreign visitors will depart from China's southern province of Guangzhou and arrive at Suvarnabhumi Airport next Tuesday.
The other group, with 120 people, will also come from Guangzhou.
This group had planned to go to Phuket on Oct 8 but that trip was postponed because the island's authorities were holding their annual vegetarian festival at the time and were concerned they might not have time to deal with the Chinese visitors' arrivals, said Mr Phiphat.
Both groups will stay in Thailand for 30 days and will spend the first 14 days in Alternative State Quarantine or Alternative Local State Quarantine facilities in accordance with public health measures.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) would find activities to keep them occupied while they are quarantined in their hotels, the minister said. These first STV visitors could pave the way for a gradual reopening of Thailand's borders and the further easing of lockdown measures, he said.
The next phase of tourism reopening could see the time quarantined inside hotel rooms halved to seven days. This might see visitors allowed to spend the next seven days outside their rooms but not outside their hotels.
Meanwhile, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul disclosed further details yesterday about the joint research and development of a Covid-19 vaccine between Thai company Siam Bioscience with Oxford University and the British multinational pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.
Mr Anutin said Siam Bioscience had the capacity to manufacture 100-200 million doses for use in Thailand and other countries in the region and his ministry has instructed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Medical Science (DMS) to analyse the vaccine speedily.
The Department of Disease Control and the DMS expect to conclude within a fortnight if their antibody blood tests are accurate and efficient.
If they are, the ministry will propose that the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration cuts the quarantine period, Mr Anutin said.
He added that efficient and accurate antibody blood tests which could result in a shorter quarantine period would be a good news for the country.
Suvarnabhumi Airport, the country's main gateway, says it is fully ready to welcome the first batch of foreign visitors next week.