Tourism operators criticize the announcement of level 4

A foreign family sit outside a drinks store near the Royal Palace on Saturday. (photo Bloomberg)

Tour operators beat the government’s announcement raising the Covid-19 alert to Level 4, insisting that state policy should allow people to live with the virus instead of limiting travel activities.

Most economic operators are ready to comply with the new rules, but will not agree if the government imposes strict containment measures again.

Chamnan Srisawat, chairman of the Tourism Council of Thailand, said the new Covid-19 alert will increase people’s anxiety and inconsistency in business operations as demand fluctuates.

This is the most worrying situation for the tourism sector, he said.

The new alert encouraging people to avoid non-essential inter-provincial travel is no different from previous semi-lockdowns, which also impacted the industry, Chamnan said.

“As tourism is largely dependent on government confidence and policies, any action by the authorities must be consistent and avoid frequent flip-flops to allow the tourism industry to recover in the long term,” he said. -he declares.

Decisive action to allow economic activities to operate as usual is needed after the country has coped with the pandemic for two years, Chamnan said.

He said Thailand could learn from other countries that allowed people to live normal lives and simultaneously bounce back from the crisis.

For example, the Maldives has prioritized the economy by fully reopening and has seen tourist arrivals surpass 2019 levels, Chamnan said. The country has maintained its reopening policy despite further surges. Some countries in Europe, such as Sweden, have recently removed Covid testing requirements and most restrictions.

The government should focus on the number of deaths and serious cases, while rolling out concrete public health plans to ease people’s anxiety, said Domestic Travel Association President Thanapol Cheewarattanaporn.

He said a proactive search for infectious people is key to stopping the highly transmissible virus and can help flatten the curve.

The government should adopt other preventive measures, such as the free weekly distribution of antigen test kits (ATK) to 50 million people for a month and the establishment of ATK test sites in communities, markets fresh produce or mass transit points, Thanapol said.

He said Tour Teaw Thai, a tour grant scheme, was likely to run out of steam as families and the elderly – the two key targets – could delay their trips for the next two weeks.

Mr Thanapol said the programme, which is due to end on April 31, should be extended until July to allow more time for those who want to wait and see.

MORE LOCKOUTS

The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) is not worried about the latest warning from the Ministry of Public Health as it believes the government can cope with higher daily infections.

“The number of cases of Omicron is increasing, but the mortality rate remains low compared to the Delta variant,” said Supant Mongkolsuthree, president of the FTI.

However, the federation said if the government resorted to lockdown measures to control the spread of the virus, it would have a negative impact on the economy.

“The FTI will not agree if the government uses lockdown measures again because the economy needs to recover,” he said.

Sanan Angubolkul, president of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the Level 4 alert will impact consumer confidence, especially for shopping in department stores and restaurants.

He said the private sector viewed the higher level as a warning to all parties, both government and public, to be aware of outbreaks and strictly follow the advice of the Ministry of Public Health.

The chamber has previously urged the government to improve the Test & Go scheme by scrapping the RT-PCR test requirement on the fifth day to cut unnecessary expense.

The move will help the economy improve, not only in the tourism sector but also in trade, services and investment, Sanan said.

Meanwhile, Wallaya Chirathivat, chairman and CEO of SET-listed property and retail developer Central Pattana, said the company accepts all measures and plans to adapt to the new alert.

“The current Covid-19 situation is different than the past two years. Omicron spread rapidly, but we learned quickly that the variant caused mild symptoms in vaccinees,” she said.

Ms Wallaya said operators are more flexible in their dealings as this is not the first time they have faced rising numbers of Covid-19 cases given previous waves of the past two years.

“We urge the government to recognize shopping complexes as hygienic places as few cases have been detected in such places,” she said.

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