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Travel Bubbles Likely Delayed ‘Indefinitely’, Aviation Chief Says

suvarnabhumi international airport BKK Bangkok Thailand Terminal Checkin

Thailand may have to postpone “indefinitely” proposed “travel bubbles” after its three target partners – China, Japan and South Korea – sustained new outbreaks of the coronavirus, the country’s top aviation regulator said.

Speaking to a group of reporters Tuesday, Chula Sukmanop, director-general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand, said he’d expected Thailand to start exchange tourists in August with countries that had controlled their Covid-19 epidemics as well as Thailand. The initial three countries were China, Japan and South Korea.

However, while negotiations have begun, the new outbreaks in Beijing, Tokyo and outside Seoul means “we probably will have to postpone indefinitely,” Chula said, adding that the government will monitor outbreaks around the world for the rest of this month.

While CAAT is not the agency that ultimately will decide whether travel-bubble talks will be postponed, Chula’s comments reflect the attitude of Thailand’s leaders who seem unwilling to accept tourists from any country where even a single case of Covid-19 was found in the wild.

With no coronavirus vaccine in sight, the former generals will eventually have accept that there likely will never be a bilateral partner entirely free of the virus. At that point, they’ll have to do what the public is demanding now, and reopen the border to foreign tourists to save the economy.

Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, who spoke alongside Chula yesterday, said he couldn’t predict what August and September would hold, preferring to wait for a “clear policy” from Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration.