Majority of Thais oppose lifting foreign tourist ban, fearing resurgence of Covid-19, says survey

BANGKOK (BLOOMBERG) – A majority of Thais do not agree with the government plan to reopen its borders to foreign tourists, a survey showed, as the nation prepared to receive the first group of visitors in almost seven months.

About 57 per cent of participants were concerned that the reopening will increase the risks of coronavirus infections and disagreed with the plan, the poll conducted by Bangkok-based National Institute of Development Administration showed.

The survey of about 1,300 people also found that 62 per cent were not confident that the government can avoid the re-emergence of virus once the country reopened to holidaymakers.

The tourism-reliant nation last week unveiled plans to allow a limited number of foreign tourists each month to provide some relief to the industry struggling to survive a six-month period without international visitors.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s government is seeking a balance between rescuing its tourism sector, which derived two-thirds of revenue from foreign visitors, and maintaining its good track record of managing the virus.

Thailand’s reopening plan has faced several delays, partly due to the concerns of some local groups. But the government has pushed ahead with the plan to receive visitors with a 14-day mandatory quarantine, although tourism businesses said the requirement would exclude most travellers hoping to visit the country.

Even the supporters of government plan to issue long-term visas to foreigners, said there must be effective measures in place to prevent spread of virus.

The random survey was conducted on Oct 1-2 and has a confidence level of 97 per cent, the institute said in a statement.

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