Foreign tourists will be allowed back into the country in August under "travel bubble" arrangements, Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn confirmed on Thursday, (July 2).
The "travel bubbles" will cover countries at low-risk of Covid-19 contagion, while the tourists would be allowed to travel on specific Thai routes or itineraries booked through small agencies, he added.
After discussions with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and private operators on Wednesday (July 1), Phiphat will today meet with Public Health Ministry officials to finalise the list of "travel bubble" countries.
The countries will be proposed to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) in the next two weeks, he added.
Phiphat said the countries in Thailand's travel bubbles must be deemed at low risk for Covid-19 by the World Health Organisation (WTO).
The travel bubble scheme will open in three phases.
In the first phase, tourist numbers and the areas they can travel to will be limited. Areas open to tourists in this phase will be Chiang Mai, Koh Samui, Krabi, Phuket and Pattaya, and would include Chiang Rai and Hat Yai if possible, said the minister.
These limits would be relaxed in the second phase if it was deemed safe to do so, he added.
The third phase would see a lifting of all restrictions on tourist arrivals and the areas they could visit, he said.
"Before opening each area for tourists, we have to ensure they have enough public health capacity to serve the foreign arrivals" he added. "If the tourism situation and virus containment goes smoothly, we expect to see around 6.7 million foreign visitors between August and December."
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