Thailand considers Safe & Sealed plan for foreign tourists hinh anh 1The number of foreign visitors to Thailand stood at 6.69 million in the first half of 2020, down 66 percent year on year (Photo: VNA)

Bangkok (VNA) – Tour operators in Thailand is planning to speak with the country’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAAT) about lifting restrictions on international commercial flights in the fourth quarter to allow the Safe and Sealed plan to take shape.

Local media cited Vichit Prakobgosol, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, as saying that state agencies and operators must cooperate to drive the economy forward during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Safe and Sealed plan is the result of collaboration between the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) and 13 tourism industries, including hotels, inbound tour operators and tour bus services.

While the private sector is awaiting a response from the government after proposing the scheme, TCT representatives in each province are working with locals to gain a better understanding of the idea.

Vichit said Phuket shows the strongest potential to receive the first group of international tourists, followed by islands in Krabi and Surat Thani provinces.

Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, president of the Phuket Tourist Association, said operators in Phuket suggested a similar idea by using alternative state quarantine hotels to welcome only long-stay tourists.

Those long-term guests wouldn't be kept in a specific area after completing a 14-day quarantine and would be allowed to travel freely in the country, which should contribute tourism income to other provinces, he said.

Meanwhile, the Thai Ministry of Tourism and Sports plans to propose the opening of five islands to foreign tourists, namely Phuket in Phuket province, Phi Phi in Krabi province, and Samui, Pha Ngan and Tao islands in Surat Thani province as those places could be easily regulated in terms of care, quarantine and monitoring of tourists in different areas to ensure the safety of both the community and the tourists themselves.

However, the CAAT said on August 13 that the ban on international commercial flights is set to continue since the COVID-19 pandemic remains serious in many countries.

CAAT Director Chula Sukmanop said this is an indefinite ban. 

Thailand’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration noted it would continue to monitor the situation around the world prior to making any decision on when the flights might resume.

In 2019, spending by foreign tourists accounted for 11.4 percent of Thailand’s GDP. In the first six months of 2020, the number of foreign visitors to this country stood at 6.69 million, a year-on-year decline of 66 percent. 

The Tourism Authority of Thailand predicted that foreign arrivals this year may plunge to 7 million, compared to the record of 39.8 million in 2019, if Thailand remains closed for international travellers in the fourth quarter of 2020./.