'We're open for business'
PM to welcome back tourists at summit
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will use the Asean-US Special Summit in Washington, DC which is set to end later on Friday, to tell the world that Thailand is ready to welcome international travellers back with open arms.
As he made his way to the United States, Gen Prayut posted on Facebook that the visit is an important opportunity to tell world leaders at the meeting that Thailand has now fully reopened to international visitors and moving towards a "Next Normal" in the post-Covid world.
Thailand is ready to welcome back visitors -- whether they are business, leisure travellers, or those attending meetings or seeking medical care, he posted.
He said more than 300,000 travellers had visited Thailand one week after the Test & Go entry scheme was scrapped on May 1. Many more arrivals are expected from this month until September, and at least 1 million are tipped to visit during the high season between October and November, Gen Prayut said.
Gen Prayut also said that his visit to the US is an opportunity to hold talks with the US president and other high-ranking officials on the issue of cooperation, support for growth and recovery in Asean, and Thailand's role as the host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit in November.
The trip will also help assure the US private sector that Thailand is on the road to economic recovery and is ready to rejoin the global supply chain and contribute to digital economy transformation, sustainable development and clean energy, he added.
These issues are high on Thailand's agenda as the country is seeking to expand trade ties and investment in industries on the global stage, Gen Prayut said.
"The visit to the US is an important opportunity for Thailand to press ahead with economic recovery along with Asean and the global community. It will be Thailand's major step toward becoming a leading country in the post-Covid period," the prime minister said.
The Asean-US Special Summit commemorates the 45th anniversary of Asean-US Dialogue Relations.
The multilateral meeting provides an opportunity for the leaders of Asean and the US to discuss the future direction of their relations in various areas.
They include Covid-19 response and recovery, health security, climate change, sustainable development, maritime cooperation, supply chain connectivity, green infrastructure, human capital development and human security.
The leaders were set also to exchange views on pressing regional and international issues, while underlining the importance of Asean centrality and the need to promote a conducive environment for peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
Asean-US relations began in 1977, and were elevated to a strategic partnership in 2015.
Both sides have been working together to advance cooperation across all three pillars of the Asean Community, namely the Political Security Community, the Economic Community, and Socio-Cultural Community.
Gen Prayut arrived in Washington, DC at 6.55pm on Wednesday (local time). He was welcomed by US officials before heading to the St Regis, Washington, DC.
Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said on Thursday that at the summit, Gen Prayut will urge the US to engage in a constructive role with Asean to support the region's economic growth and recovery in the "Next Normal" period after the coronavirus pandemic.
On May 5, Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said Thailand was ranked fifth in the world, and first in Asia, on the Global Health Security Index last year.
The ranking reflects the country's strong commitment to its public health measures during the pandemic, the minister said.