Asia Minute: Thailand Looks Beyond “Travel Bubbles"

Aug 7, 2020

The timetable for increased tourism remains uncertain. That’s true for Hawaii, but it’s also true for much of the world. And in one part of Southeast Asia, government leaders are proposing a new approach.

You may be familiar with the idea of “travel bubbles” — quarantine-free travel that might be allowed between certain countries with low numbers of cases of COVID-19. The concept has taken differing forms in various locations, but Thailand is backing away from the approach it started discussing several months ago.

Three locations Thailand was considering for “travel bubbles” were Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea — all of which had relatively low case numbers at the time, but have since seen increases.

So now the Tourism Ministry and industry leaders have changed the discussion to a proposal they’re calling “Safe and Sealed.” The Bangkok Post reports it would be based on particular cities or regions rather than entire countries.

Eligible visitors would have to come from a location with no infections for at least 30 days. Their travel would be overseen by a tour operator using designated hotels. Those taking part would also have to have a negative test for coronavirus within 72 hours of starting their trip, and carry insurance for their travels.

None of this would take place until October, and the government still hasn’t abandoned the idea of a broader approach.

Reuters quotes a spokesman for Thailand’s coronavirus task force as saying “We are delaying discussion of travel bubble arrangements for now, given the outbreak situation in other countries.”