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Latest Updates on Tourism in Thailand after Covid-19

Over the past 25 years, Thailand has experienced a spectacular economic crash (1997), a tsunami (2004), coups (2006, 2014), the occupation of its main international airport by protesters (2008) and serious political violence (2010).

Yet the statistics speak for themselves. In 1960 around 80,000 foreign tourists came here. Last year it reached 39 million, earning more than $60bn (£46bn) for Thailand, and indirectly contributing around one fifth of the country's national income.

The country's tourism sector was considered so robust that the country got the nickname "Teflon Thailand". Yet of those 39 million tourists last year, more than 10 million were Chinese.

So when the Chinese government quarantined the city of Wuhan on 23 January, and stopped all overseas tours, the impact was felt immediately in Thailand. Shopping malls and temples in Bangkok were suddenly much quieter and less crowded.

As more flights from China were cancelled, the airports emptied. You could whisk yourself through passport control in no time.

For small-scale entrepreneurs, the collapse of Chinese tourism has been disastrous.

Many of them, such as flower sellers, traditional dancers, and the drivers of the famous "red cars" minibuses in Chiang Mai, are reporting their income dropping by half over the past month. The informal association representing tour guides in Thailand thinks 25,000 people are now out of work.

Phuket airport to reopen to domestic flights on June 15

PHUKET: Domestic flights to and from this southern island province will resume on June 15, the provincial communicable disease committee announced on Tuesday.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) has banned domestic flights to and from Phuket since April 10 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The committee said since the provincial authority had been effective in containing the spread of Covid-19, Phuket airport had obtained permission to re-open to domestic flights from June 15.

All passengers were advised to arrive at the airport one to two hours before scheduled departure, to allow time to go through health screening procedures.

They would be required to wear face masks and their temperature must not exceed 37.3°C.

Out-bound passengers would have to fill in the AOT Airports app before departure, and inbound passengers fill out a form with personal data before entering Phuket.

Out-bound passengers would have to fill in the AOT Airports app before departure, and inbound passengers fill out a form with personal data before entering Phuket.

They would be required to keep at least one metre away from other people, or follow instructions on distancing from the airport's signboards.

Each passenger could take a maximum 350 millilitres of hand sanitising gel on board the aircraft. The maximum amount of liquid, including the hand gel, each person could carry on board would be one litre.

Phuket's exit and entry points by land and water reopened on Monday.

The committee reported on Tuesday there were no new Covid-19 cases, leaving the tally at 227, of whom 223 had recovered and been discharged, and three died. One patient had died from motorcycle accident injuries. There were no patients still being treated.

Seventeen people were arrested on Monday night in the province for violating the 11pm-3am curfew, the committee added.

Phuket reopens ports, road link

PHUKET: All entry and exit points by land and water reopened on this southern island province on Monday after Covid-19 lockdown measures were relaxed under an order signed by governor Pakapong Tawipat on Sunday.

The bridge crossing at Tha Chat Chai to Phangnga on the mainland and all 24 boat landings were open to traffic.

Phuket airport remained closed to international passenger flights.

The provincial communicable disease committee had informed the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) of the province's readiness to reopen the airport, Mr Pakapong said.

However, the CAAT has extended a ban on all international flights to Thailand until June 30.

Limited domestic flights are operating

The governor said people can leave Phuket by land without restriction. However, those entering Phuket via the Tha Chat Chai checkpoint were required to have their temperature taken and download the "Mor Chana" application to support Covid-19 tracing efforts.

On Sunday, Mr Pakapong presided over the closing of one of the field hospitals opened to cope with the spread of Covid-19.

The governor said Phuket had 227 confirmed cases in total. Of these, 223 had recovered and been released, three died and another died from motorbike crash injuries. The were no patients still being treated for the disease.

Why Thailand isn't reopening to international tourists yet

Bangkok (CNN) — With news that many countries in Europe are reopening to tourism in time for summer, travelers with their sights set on Asia are anxiously awaiting word on when they'll be given the green light to visit their favorite destination.

As of now, those with Thailand in mind will need to wait at least a few more months before packing their bags.

"It is still dependent on the outbreak situation, but I think at the earliest, we may see the return of tourists could be the fourth quarter of this year," Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), tells CNN Travel.

And even then, he says, there will likely be restrictions on who can visit and where they can go.

"We are not going to open all at once," he adds. "We are still on high alert, we just can't let our guards down yet. We have to look at the country of origin [of the travelers] to see if their situation has truly improved. And lastly, we have to see whether our own business operators are ready to receive tourists under the 'new normal'."

Similar versions of this strategy are already being looked at in the region -- referred to as "tourism bubbles." Basically, a country will open borders reciprocally with destinations that also have their coronavirus situation under control.

Once Thailand does open to international tourists, they'll likely only be able to visit certain spots, says Yuthasak.

"We have studied a possibility of offering special long-stay packages in isolated and closed areas where health monitoring can be easily controlled -- for example, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Samui. This will be beneficial for both tourists and local residents, since this is almost a kind of quarantine."

Country kicks off domestic tourism push, eases lockdown measures

Thailand is now focused on reopening to domestic tourism in June, says Yuthasak. Resorts and hotels in some tourism destinations throughout the country have already been given the green light to reopen, including in Hua Hin, a popular beach resort about 200 kilometers (124 miles) south of Bangkok.

Nationwide lockdown measures put in place in late March have been easing in stages throughout May.

Malls, markets, museums and some tourist attractions have already reopened and more are slated to follow. Bangkok's Grand Palace, for instance, will reopen June 4.

National parks, theme parks, stadiums, spas, massage shops and cinemas remain closed, but local media reports some will likely be given the go-ahead reopen in June.

Restaurants -- limited to offering only delivery and take-out services in late March -- can now allow customers to dine in but are banned from serving alcohol and must adhere to strict social distancing measures. Pubs and night clubs remain closed, and a curfew is in place from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Thailand to postpone 2020 Songkran Festival

Due to the further spread of COVID-19, Thai Government Deputy Spokesperson Ratchada Thanadirek has announced via Twitter that the government plans to postpone the Songkran festival, which falls on 13-15 April. New dates have not been announced. Ratchada says areas of large gatherings such as schools, universities, and cinemas may also be temporarily closed starting on Wednesday, 18 March 2020.

The COVID-19 management committee has held a meeting and has come to the decision to postpone Songkran festival on 13-15 April in order to increase public distancing and decrease the movement of people in and out of Thailand. #COVID19 #socialdistance.

This proposal will be submitted to the cabinet on Tuesday, 16 March 2020.

Thailand has recorded 33 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total number of infections to 147. Earlier on Sunday, the country had its biggest daily spike in cases from 32-114.

Songkran festival is the Thai new year. The national holiday is one of the only times that.

Thais working in the cities can return home to their families in the provinces to pay respect to their elders. It is feared COVID-19 could move from Bangkok to rural areas and pose danger to elders living in remote areas that my not have sufficient medical care to deal with possible COVID-19 outbreak.

Update: Phuket Governor signs order for June 9 beach re-opening