Sumber: Reuters | Editor: Herlina Kartika Dewi
KONTAN.CO.ID - BANGKOK. Thailand's top hoteliers on Tuesday urged the government to simplify entry rules to help along an otherwise slow recovery of one of the country's highest earning sectors.
Thailand has been ahead of its Southeast Asian neighbours in easing entry rules, after imposing strict quarantine and entry requirements for more than a year.
It started a calibrated reopening to vaccinated tourists from July last year with two island "sandbox" programmes as pilot projects, before fully reopening in November, when visitors were required to take tests on arrival.
This helped boost January arrivals to nearly 134,000 from about 7,700 in 2021, a year when total arrivals were less than 0.5% of the pre-pandemic figures.
But industry members said more must be done if Thailand wants to attract the kind of numbers that made it one of the world's most visited countries.
"The rules are too complicated," said Bill Heinecke, chairman of Minor International Pcl, which operates hotels in Thailand, Australia, the Maldives and in Europe.
"We're not going to regain the number one spot back by making up our own rules on how to treat tourists," he told a Bangkok tourism forum.
Thailand in 2019 had a record 40 million arrivals, when tourism accounted for about 12% of its economy.
But the pandemic-battered sector continues to flounder even as the country reopens. The state-planning agency expects just 5.5 million arrivals this year.
In a programme called "Test and Go", Thailand allows vaccinated travellers who have sought prior entry approval to minimise quarantine to just one night.
They must present a negative pre-departure test, proof of vaccination, hotel bookings and COVID-19 insurance coverage of $20,000, and take two more tests after arrival.
Businesses are concerned travellers will opt for countries with easier entry rules.
"We're behind other Asian countries who are able to take on slightly more risk," said Hilton Hotels and Resorts, senior vice president, Clarence Tan.
A government spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
More than 70% of people in Thailand have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
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