Thai tourism chiefs outlining health protection measures

A trip to Thailand should soon be worry-free. Thai officials are drawing up new health and safety standards and a certification process for ten tourism-related industries to reduce any virus risk for visitors to the Kingdom after airports and borders reopen.

“This is one of the most revolutionary moves we can make at this time,” said Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, deputy governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). He unveiled the set of measures at a meeting of the Mekong Tourism Advisory Group last week.

“It’s a positive step, not only in creating confidence but in really protecting people who depend on the tourism industry, work in the industry, and who visit us. Eventually, every country should have one,” Chattan said.

Tourism is a crucial part of Thailand’s economy, directly accounting for about 10 percent of gross domestic product, and possibly double that in indirect contributions. However, the coronavirus pandemic has forced the Kingdom to shut its airports to international flights, except for repatriation flights of Thai nationals.

While the government’s actions appear to have contained the epidemic – new daily cases have been in the single digits for the past two weeks – people around the world are likely to be less willing to travel this year because of the fear of potential health risks.

The risks and fears present a daunting challenge to tourism industries, such as airlines, hotels, and other businesses.

“We want to see Thailand emerge as a hygiene-friendly destination. We want to be able to (set out certain) standards and launch a series of commitments from when the guests leave the hotel to everything that happens in between until they come back to the hotel,” Chattan said.

The TAT is still finalizing its set of measures and standards. It has identified ten business groups to which they will apply: restaurants and eateries; accommodation; amusement and recreation parks; transportation; travel agents and tour operators; spas, wellness resorts and retreats; department stores and shops; golf courses and driving ranges; theatres and cinemas; and souvenir shops.

Certification will involve checking to see that many measures have been adopted, including the availability of hand sanitizer in public areas, adequate soap in restrooms, high maintenance of cleanliness in every area of businesses, and sufficient ventilation.

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