Thailand: ‘Travel bubbles’ plan tipped to be put on ice
Travel bubbles are likely to be delayed after several countries eyed for the scheme have seen a resurgence of Covid-19 cases, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT).
CAAT director-general Chula Sukmanop said even though talks about travel bubble arrangements are being thrashed out with a number of countries including China, Japan and South Korea, the scheme will be put on hold due to a spike in infections. He said Thailand will be closely monitoring the Covid-19 situation this month.
The government has come up with a plan to launch travel bubbles with several countries with low coronavirus risk and initially the arrangements were to be adopted with the first group of international leisure travellers in August at the earliest.
Mr Chula said that local tourism is vital to rebuilding the country’s aviation industry and noted that demand for domestic travel is picking up after airlines resume operations and business operators launch promotional campaigns to boost travel.
He expressed confidence that further economic stimulus measures to be rolled out by the government will increase spending power and that the aviation and transport sectors will start to recover.
Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said on Tuesday that public safety is the top priority for the government as it considers reopening the country to international travellers.
Mr Saksayam called on airlines to wait for a clear policy from the government and the CAAT when asked about reports about airlines preparing to resume international flights in September.
Earlier Thira Woratanarat, an epidemiologist at Chulalongkorn University, urged the government to exercise extreme caution when considering travel bubble arrangements because the Covid-19 pandemic is still ravaging many parts of the world.
Sophon Iamsirithavorn, chief of the Communicable Disease Division, on Tuesday urged the public to keep their guard up even though the country has recorded no local cases of coronavirus for 43 consecutive days.
Meanwhile, Pha Muang Task Force is stepping up efforts to prevent migrant workers from sneaking into Thailand illegally to seek jobs, said task force commander Maj Gen Thanatpol Kosaisewi.