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World News

Thailand to allow long-stay tourists in island of Phuket from October

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand will allow foreign tourists to visit for longer stays from October, a senior official said on Friday, as the government tries to revive a key economic sector that has been devasted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Tourists will have to stay for at least 30 days, with the first 14 days in quarantine in a limited vicinity of their hotel, before they can visit other areas, Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn told Reuters.

The announcement comes after authorities suspended plans to create ‘travel bubbles’ with partner countries as the number of coronavirus cases in Asia rose.

“On Oct. 1 we will start in Phuket,” Yuthasak said.

Visitors will have to take two coronavirus tests during quarantine before they are able to travel to the rest of the island, Minister of Tourism and Sports Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, said on Thursday.

Staff will also have to remain in the hotel, he added.

Visitors will have to take an additional test and remain within the province for another week before they can travel to other parts of the country.

Thailand has gone nearly three months without a confirmed case of a local COVID-19 transmission. It has recorded over 3,300 cases.

The government’s coronavirus taskforce on Friday extended a state of emergency for another month until the end of September to control the outbreak.

The tourism-reliant economy has been battered by the collapse of global travel as infections spread.

Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy shrank 12.2% in the second quarter from a year earlier, the worst contraction since the 1998 Asian crisis due to the pandemic impact.

The country expects to receive 8 million foreign tourists this year. By comparison, it had a record 39.8 million tourists in 2019.

Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Kim Coghill

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