Thailand plans to allow foreign business travelers into the country for the first time since closing its borders to most international flights in March.
Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Japan passport holders, along with people from some Chinese provinces, may be allowed to travel to Thailand as part of proposed “business-travel bubbles” from July.
The initiative seeks to revive foreign investment and reboot the economy, according to Somsak Rungsita, head of Thailand’s National Security Council.
The state of coronavirus infections in business travelers’ home countries along with the economic benefit or investment the person could deliver would be considerations for approval, Somsak said.
“If they can’t stimulate the economy, they should not come because we can not risk our country’s public health,” Somsak said.
Holders of work permits, permanent residents, people seeking certain health treatments and foreign students – along with family members – would also qualify to apply for entry, according to Taweesilp Witsanuyotin, a spokesman for Thailand’s Covid-19 center.
Thailand’s Cabinet will consider approving the proposal on Tuesday after Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha endorsed it at the state’s Covid-19 meeting on Monday.
The Cabinet will also review extending Thailand’s state of emergency by a month through July, which Prayuth sees as vital as lockdown curbs for all schools and “high-risk” businesses, including nightclubs and bars, are eased.
Singapore is also trialling a 'fast lane' for business travellers which removes the need to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine period upon arrival in the city-state.
The move is a seen as a potential precursor for carefully reopening international trade and travel, ahead of measures such as the proposed 'green lane' to countries such as Australia and New Zealand.
As previously reported, Thailand is also considering a tourism bubble to reboot its tourism industry, but will shift its focus from the mass-market to premium holidaymakers.
The country's first few travel-bubble pacts, with nations such as Japan and Australia, probably won’t be ready until at least August and would be marketed at wealthier individuals who want holidays with minimal risks, said Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.
Additional reporting by David Flynn.
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