Thai minister proposes ‘golf quarantine’ to boost tourism

Asia's Hideto Tanihara of Japan hits the ball on the fourth hole during the second day of foursomes competition against Europe at the Royal Trophy golf tournament in Chonburi province, near Bangkok

Thailand’s Tourism Minister said on Monday he had proposed a plan to allow foreigners to quarantine in some of the country’s many golf resorts to boost the ailing tourism sector during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are discussing with the Public Health Ministry and the country’s coronavirus taskforce to offer hotel and golf quarantine for tourists with medical certificates,” Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn told reporters.

Foreign tourists would be able to spend the two-week quarantine period at a specified resort and move around in the hotel area and also play golf, he said, rather than just isolating in their rooms.

The plan, which is subject to the approval of the cabinet, comes as the Southeast Asian country grapples with a second wave of coronavirus infections after managing to largely contain community spread for months.

Thailand has reported a relatively low 10,547 COVID-19 infections and 67 deaths, though since several clusters emerged in December the country has been recording several hundred new cases a day.

Thailand attracted 40 million tourists in 2019 who spent 1.91 trillion baht ($63.4 billion), but the number of visitors dived during the pandemic after its borders were sealed, devastating hotels, restaurants and tourist spots that relied on foreigner visitors.

A special visa scheme that was started last year for long stay visitors has attracted about 1,000 visitors, Phiphat said.

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