The Thai government will make concerted efforts to divert more tourism to Rayong following a disastrous slip-up last week which saw one imported Covid case wiping out nearly all hotel bookings in the province.
The incident occurred during July 8-11 when one individual of a visiting Egyptian military delegation who stayed at the D’Varee Diva Central hotel in Rayong was found to have Covid-19. The delegates were exempted from undergoing the usual quarantines due to their diplomatic status.
The mishap impacted bookings in at least three major tourist destinations – accommodations in Rayong and Koh Samet saw a 80-100 per cent dive in bookings, while hotels in Pattaya reported bookings slipped 40-50 per cent.
Following the Covid-19 scare in Rayong, the government announced on Friday a five-part plan proposed by a Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) subcommittee to boost tourism in the province.
The first two points focus on promoting meetings and seminars run by government agencies in the province, and sponsoring trips to Rayong for village health volunteers and other medical personnel.
The third and fourth measures involve using Rayong as a trial location to model the organisation of sports events, such as the football games of Thai League teams, and live concerts according to the new normal. Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman for the CCSA, said officials would use these events to test disease control measures.
The final measure is to permit Thai and foreign film production crews into the province. Foreign film crews are one of five new categories of foreigners proposed to be allowed into the country during the sixth phase of Thailand’s reopening. Designated villas will act as quarantine facilities for the crews.
Although over 5,500 locals from Rayong and Bangkok have since tested negative for the virus, the Egyptian soldier case has raised public suspicion towards people with any contact to Rayong. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has also warned that anyone who has visited the same hotel and malls as the infected Egyptian soldier must inform city officials or face a 20,000 baht (US$629) fine.
In response to another Covid-19 case involving the nine-year-old daughter of a Sudanese attache, who had been residing in Sukhumvit with his family, hotels in Sukhumvit also lost bookings.
Both incidents have sparked fears of a second wave and eroded confidence of Thais about allowing foreigners into the country – close to 95 per cent of 1,459 Thai respondents in a recent poll said that foreigners should be barred from entering the country to prevent a fresh outbreak.