Thailand welcomes first “villa quarantine” tourists

A hundred foreign tourists have arrived in Thailand to take advantage of new “villa quarantine” rules, which will allow them to roam within designated resorts after a first week confined to their rooms. The country is seeking ways to stimulate its essential tourism industry despite the pandemic.

Fifty-nine Western visitors arrived on flights from Indonesia to stay at the luxury Sri Panwa resort on Phuket island at the weekend, while 41 South Koreans last week travelled to the golf resort of Artitaya Country Club in Nakhon Nayok, 50 kilometres north-east of Bangkok, the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) said Monday.

“Thailand will be a tourist destination in the new normal” if the programme turned out to be successful, the CCSA said.

The visitors to Sri Panwa, from the United Kingdom, the United States, France and Finland, will be required to stay in their quarters for the first five days. After that, they can use the facilities within the grounds of the Sri Panwa hotel for the rest of their stay. They must stay on the premises for at least their full two-week quarantine.

The South Koreans in so-called “golf quarantine” will be allowed to use outdoor facilities if not detected with the Covid-19 virus in the first week.

Dr Apisamai Srirangsan, CCSA spokeswoman, said golf tourists would be tested twice, on their first day and then again within a week, to be granted permission to go outside the quarantine unit, in accordance with the guidelines of the Department of Disease Control.

The South Korean tourists will continue their golf trip at another branch of the resort in Chiang Mai after completing their 14-day quarantine in Nakhon Nayok, for a two-month stay in total, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

The golf group would generate tourism income to Thailand of around 13.1 million baht over their stay, or 5,570 baht for each person per day, said the TAT director Jiranee Poonnayom.

Thailand only saw 6.7 million tourist arrivals in 2020 as foreign arrivals were almost halted by the Covid-19 pandemic, compared to 39 million the year before. The Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) has predicted the number of tourists for 2021 to be 3.2 million.

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