BANGKOK – The government of Thailand, a country which has so far managed to keep a check on the novel coronavirus, announced on Tuesday a plan to allow foreign tourists to enter the country from October onwards.
The Asian country, which has so far recorded less than 3,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 58 people deaths, will allow visitors from abroad on the condition that they undergo 14 days of quarantine.
The tourists, who have had been barred from entering the country during the last five months because of the pandemic, must undergo quarantine in a hotel set aside for this purpose or in a hospital, deputy spokesperson of the government, Traisulee Traisoranakul, said at a press conference.
The new tourist visa, of which some details remain to be finalized, can be applied for at Thai embassies and will allow a 90-day stay that can be extended by another three months with authorization from the country’s immigration authorities.
With this plan, the authorities expect to receive about 900 tourists per month, which in turn would generate around 1.2 billion baht (about $38.4 million) in revenue for the government.
The arrival of foreign tourists fell by 71 percent between January and July this year in Thailand, amounting to some 6.6 million travelers.
During the first seven months of the year, revenues from tourism fell by more than 70 percent to 332 million bats ($10.56 million) compared to the same period in 2019.
The tourism sector is a major driver of Thailand’s economy and accounts for between 12 percent and 20 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP).
Thailand, the first country with COVID-19 cases outside China, completed 100 days without detecting any local infection on Sept. 2.
However, the streak was broken the following day when an inmate who had just entered prison – and who had not traveled abroad recently – was found to have tested positive for the dreaded virus.
Since the start of the coronavirus crisis in February, the Southeast Asian country has detected a total of 3,480 COVID-19 infections with 58 deaths. There are currently 107 coronavirus patients under treatment.