Leisure tourists who would like to visit Thailand during a soft reopening may have to spend at least 14 days within designated areas, though a negative test for Covid-19 after two weeks would free them to go anywhere in the country.
Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, the tourism and sports minister, said his ministry has talked with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha about creating a travel bubble for tourists, requiring them to plan a trip with a minimum 14-day stay.
Instead of being kept in quarantine, tourists could still travel within five designated areas: Chiang Mai, Koh Samui, Krabi, Phuket and Pattaya.
After two weeks, foreign tourists must get another swab test to ensure they are virus-free before being approved to continue their excursion to other destinations.
The ministry regularly talks with the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration about the travel bubble plan, which is expected to be concluded in July.
The scheme will be proposed to the full body chaired by Gen Prayut at a later stage.
Mr Phiphat said he still hopes to launch the travel bubble scheme in tandem with low-risk countries in August, as domestic tourism alone cannot fully revive the battered tourism industry.
Although the government is introducing domestic stimulus schemes, domestic tourism activity can make up just 40-45% of tourism revenue.
“It is important to bring inbound visitors to help fill a big vacant spot in tourism revenue and support operators,” Mr Phiphat said. “But they have to travel with the new practice instead.”
The five designated areas for leisure tourists are set to receive the first batch of leisure guests after the Tourism Authority of Thailand conducted a survey with locals and some 74% of respondents agreed with introducing travel bubbles with strict measures.