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Tourism to reopen despite Covid, minister says

This beach at Koh Lan had only a few visitors on Sept 4, after the easing of travel restrictions to the island offshore from Pattaya. (Photo: Chaiyot Pupattanapong)

Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn has confirmed Bangkok, Chon Buri, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan and Chiang Mai will begin implementing their tourism reopening plans on Oct 1 as planned.

The 21 other provinces will follow suit on Oct 15, he said on Tuesday, dispelling doubts over whether the government would be able to proceed with its plan in the face of the ongoing pandemic. 

Mr Phiphat admitted the high number of new Covid-19 infections is a major hindrance but said the ministry is fully prepared for the reopening.

Asked about the 200 plus new cases of Covid-19 recorded daily in Phuket, he said these high figures stem from the province’s active case finding in every community, including migrant workers.

Phuket was the first province to pilot the tourism reopening programme.

Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said that the ministry is fully prepared for the Oct 1 reopening.

Phetchaburi is ready to reopen to tourists on Oct 1, with effective Covid-19 controls to reduce the threat of new infections, deputy provincial governor Natthawut Phetpromsorn said on Tuesday.

Strict disease control measures remain in place to contain infection clusters, said Mr Natthawut.

Bubble and seal measures applied at factories and markets have reduced the incidence of the disease, he said.

Now that infections have dropped, Phetchaburi can prepare to reopen for tourism on Oct 1, in line with the government’s plan, he said.

All sectors are well-prepared, he said, adding that tourists can have confidence that popular destinations such as Cha-am district are safe and free from the virus. Visitors could enjoy their stay in the province, said Mr Natthawut.

Phetchaburi public health office chief Phetchakit Thaensawat said that 54% of targetted groups in the province have been vaccinated, comprising mainly people aged 60 years and over, and people with any of seven underlying conditions, and pregnant women.

Vaccination would reach 70% when more vaccines arrive, Dr Phetchakit said.

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