Thailand’s tourism operators have slammed the government’s decision to raise the Covid-19 alert to Level 4, accusing officials of damaging domestic travel sentiment. They say people should be allowed to move to “living with the virus” instead of being discouraged from travel and taking a backward step in Thailand’s recovery.
Chamnan Srisawat from the Tourism Council of Thailand says the increase to Level 4 might as well be a semi-lockdown, given the recommendation to avoid inter-provincial travel.
“As tourism largely depends on confidence and the government’s policies, any action from the authorities should be consistent and avoid frequent flip-flops to let the tourism industry recover in the long run.”
According to a Bangkok Post report, Chamnan says the country has now been dealing with the pandemic for 2 years and it’s time for decisive action aimed at economic recovery. He adds that Thailand can learn from other countries that have moved to living with the virus and are now rebounding from the pandemic.
One example is the Maldives, where tourism numbers have now surpassed those of 2019. Other countries in Europe have removed all testing requirements and other restrictions.
Thanapol Cheewarattanaporn from the Association of Domestic Travel agrees and is calling for a shift in focus to severe cases and deaths, as opposed to daily infection numbers. He would also like to see the government distribute free antigen test kits and organise antigen testing in communities, fresh markets, and public transit areas.
Meanwhile, the Federation of Thai Industries says it won’t back the government if there is another lockdown. FTI chairman Supant Mongkolsuthree says such a move would have further negative implications for the delicate economy.
“The FTI won’t agree if the government uses lockdown measures again because the economy needs to recover.”
Also opposing the Level 4 move is Sanan Angubolkul from the Thai Chamber of Commerce, who says the raising of the alert will affect consumer confidence, particularly when it comes to visiting department stores and restaurants.
The TCC has previously called for the day 5 PCR test for overseas arrivals to be dropped. The chamber says the extra test is an added unnecessary expense and getting rid of it would help boost the economy, not only in terms of tourism, but also trade, services, and investments.
The CCSA meets today to discuss the measures of the Test & Go entry scheme, amid some speculation that the day 5 test may be dropped from next month.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post