Tourism Ministry proposes free booster shots for tourists
The Tourism and Sports Ministry will ask the Public Health Ministry to provide free Covid-19 booster shots to tourists at a meeting next month that also includes the Transport Ministry to discuss the return of Chinese tourists.
Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said on Thursday the three ministries would hold a meeting on January 5 to discuss preparations for the possible return of Chinese tourists following relaxation of travel restrictions by China.
Phiphat said the booster shots would be among the proposals of his ministry during the joint meeting.
He said he would propose that all foreign tourists who request Covid booster shots receive free vaccine, not only Chinese tourists.
“I’ll discuss the possibility of providing booster shots to tourists from all countries who want to receive Covid vaccine in Thailand,” Phiphat said.
“I think it’s worthwhile. It will be like a promotion to draw more foreign tourists to visit Thailand.”
The tourism minister explained that each vaccine shot would cost just a few hundred baht while each foreign tourist would spend an average of 40,000 baht in Thailand per trip, including 7% VAT of 2,800 baht. He said the VAT value alone would cover the cost of booster shots.
Phiphat said the government should allocate a budget from the central fund for the Public Health Ministry to buy Covid vaccines for providing booster shots to tourists.
Phiphat added that he would also ask the Public Health Ministry to use remaining Covid vaccines in stock to provide booster shots to personnel in the tourism sector.
He said the government should step up its PR campaigns for young working people in the tourism sector to come out to receive booster shots ahead of the return of Chinese tourists.
The personnel should also campaign to continue wearing flu masks to protect themselves, the tourism minister added.
“The proposal of free booster shots is based on the principle that we must take good care of foreign tourists since Thailand is ranked among the top five countries with the best public health system,” Phiphat added.
Meanwhile, Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, said the TAT had held a meeting with representatives of the private sector on Wednesday to discuss preparations for China’s reopening of its country.
The meeting expected that during the first three months of next year, about 300,000 Chinese tourists would visit Thailand, compared to some 274,000 arrivals from China throughout this year.
The meeting agreed that no sector must discriminate against Chinese tourists but must threat them with the same practices used for tourists from other countries.
Yuthasak said the meeting also saw the need for the personnel in the tourism sector to step up self-protection measures, including receiving booster shots. Hotels are also advised to use the Safety and Health Administration measures like what were used during the Covid pandemic.
In a related development, Phiphat said the National Tourism Policy Committee would meet on January 24 to deliberate the proposed entry fee rate for foreign arrivals by land. If approved, the entry fee rates for foreign arrivals by land, air and water would be submitted to the Cabinet for approval in February, Phiphat added.