BANGKOK — The government’s pandemic response center on Friday decided to delay the reopening of some provinces to international tourists by a month, from Oct. 1 to Nov. 1.
Five areas were initially earmarked for the reopening — Bangkok, Chon Buri, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, and Phetchaburi. The government had hoped the initiative would draw tourists back to Thailand and revitalize the country’s decimated tourism industry.
But those hopes were dashed by today’s decision from the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration. It was the third time the reopening of Pattaya, Chiang Mai, and Hua Hin has been pushed back, with vaccine shortages being the reason given each time.
A number of tourism operators have expressed frustration at the delay. The executive chairman of Thai Air Asia’s largest shareholder, Asia Aviation, said the perceived flip-flopping is causing damages to the country’s reputation.
“Airlines had started to invest in service maintenance and recruit staff to prepare for a new flow of tourists,” Tassapon Bijleveld was quoted as saying by media reports. “It costs a lot for any business to restart, particularly during a liquidity crisis when every baht counts.”
Thanet Supornsahasrungsi from the Chon Buri Tourism Council also told reporters that tourism operators in Pattaya have made all the preparations for an October re-opening, in line with government’s previous announcements.
Thanet said the only thing the private sector couldn’t do on its own was providing residents with vaccines. He faulted the government for delays and supply shortage in the vaccine rollout program.
The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration today also extended the state of emergency for two more months. The decree was supposed to expire by the end of September, and there were news reports that the government may not renew it.
Officials said the Emergency Decree allows the government to convene committees, execute policies, and enact regulations to help combat the coronavirus pandemic in a timely manner.