Thailand's Tourism Reopening: A Nation Divided - TBB
Thailand's Tourism Reopening: A Nation Divided
Written By - Patra Manas.
To be or not to be. To reopen or not to reopen, that is the question.
Opinions on whether Thailand should reopen or not are divided amongst Thais, creating a huge pressure on the government.
A poll conducted by the National Institute of Development Administration showed that 57% of Thais are not in agreement with plans to reopen its borders to foreign tourists.
It comes down to the same dilemma that has plaqued the world since this pandemic started, to protect lives or livelihoods.
The Thai government has tried to strike a balance and are well aware of the economic consequences of not reopening the country.
PM Prayuth has voiced concerns that if Thailand does not start now, it would face more economic problems, but safety measures have to be in place.
The Tourism Minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, is rolling out schemes for Special Travel Visas with a 14-day quarantine and with plans to lower it to a 7-day one, if the first phase proves to be successful and 100% clear of the coronavirus, otherwise the reopening plans will be delayed indefinitely.
Permanent secretary for Public Health Kiattiphum Wongrajit came out in support of a proposal to cut the quarantine period from 14 to 10 days, displaying a confidence that even a coronavirus second wave in Thailand would be controllable. Continue reading below-
The government and the officials do want to move towards reopening, but are also well aware that a wrong move on their part would mean the end of their political careers, if a second wave of coronavirus infections should occur due to the reopening .
That explains why the reopening plan has been in fits and starts, with delays and cancellations, one step forward, two steps back.
The Thai officials have another dilemma on the issue of how to open.
Super tight rules and regulations would mean smaller numbers and would defeat the purpose of reopening while relaxing the rules would risk a second wave and a possible political backlash.
The bottom line is this:
Thai authorities cannot reopen fully and confidently until more than a vast majority of the Thai public leans towards a reopening.
And how will that shift occur?
The shift in public sentiments will only happen if the economic crises snowballs to a point when most of the population feel the severe effects of the economic contraction or when public confidence increases with an effective vaccine launch.
Whichever comes first.