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PM Confirms Thailand Plans to Limit Tourist Destinations, Movement Once Borders Reopen

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Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha confirmed Monday that once foreign tourists are allowed to enter Thailand they won’t be able to go anywhere they want.

“Tourists will not be able to roam at will, but to go only to places that are opened to them and have disease control capabilities,” the premier told a media briefing. I think it is safe and better than liberalized tourism.”

The comments affirm a suggestion made last month by Tourism Authority of Thailand Gov. Yuthasak Supasorn that overseas tourists would be confined to relatively remote areas like Koh Samui where they could stay as a sort of quasi-quarantine.

Faced with backlash from urbanized tourist favorites like Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai, Prayut did said Monday that the destinations chosen would be “both popular and less-popular” destinations.

Prayut also said the resumption of foreign tourism would come with strict controls on destinations, numbers of flights and arriving visitor numbers.

The government’s Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration plans to discuss the idea of bilateral “travel bubbles” agreements with other countries that have equally controlled their coronavirus outbreaks. Travel bubbles are expected to be approved at a June 26 video-conference meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Prayut said any tourist destinations approved would have to have substantial disease-control systems in place, including testing and contact tracing. Tourists themselves would also have to have “health certificates”, although what form those would take remains undecided.

Tourists hoping to move around would only be able to do so through specified “corridors”, he added.

Of course, restricting movement will be unappealing to many tourists as well as governments hoping to ink reciprocal travel bubble agreements with Bangkok.

Prayut even acknowledged that the idea of restricted destinations must be approved by foreign partners. And, should Covid-19 cases spike uncontrollably, the borders would be shut again.