Growing outbreak in Thailand may threaten Phuket reopening

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BANGKOK (BLOOMBERG) – A growing outbreak in Thailand, where local Covid-19 cases hit a new daily record on Sunday (April 11), threatens to undermine the nation’s plan to welcome back tourists.

The country saw daily infections surge to 789, bringing its total tally to over 31,600 cases, according to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

Cases have spiked every so often since the start of the year, and the latest figures suggest the coronavirus spread has yet to be contained in the South-east Asian nation. This could jeopardise the tourism-reliant country’s efforts to boost the local travel industry.

Thailand is already planning to reopen Phuket from July and waiving quarantine for vaccinated tourists heading there. It’s using the resort island as a testing ground before expanding similar measures to other tourist hotspots such as Koh Samui.

As part of its tourism efforts, it has already approved a list of eight Covid-19 vaccine makers, including Sinovac Biotech  and Pfizer, for foreign visitors seeking to shorten a mandatory quarantine on arrival.

Tourism has never been more important to Thailand. It’s betting on a return of overseas visitors to rescue the country from its worst economic performance in more than two decades.

Tourism contributed to a fifth of its economy before the pandemic. Foreign tourist arrivals into Thailand plunged to the lowest level in at least 12 years after the country closed its borders.

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