Travel bubbles for general tourism will not become fact anytime soon, and the first people to benefit are likely to be working professionals and people attending international meetings, senior officials said on Wednesday.
Gen Somsak Roongsita, secretary-general of the National Security Council and head of the government’s committee on disease control relaxation, said the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) had not yet made a decision on travel bubbles.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, as the CCSA director, doctors and security officials were concerned about the possible implications, and emphasised public health over tourism.
“Many countries have approached us for travel pairing, but Thailand must prioritise public health. Measures to control Covid-19 in those countries will be studied… There must be thorough discussions, which may continue into next month,” Gen Somsak said.
A government source said the government would assess possible revenue from the travel bubbles proposal, the possible impact on local people from any undetected, infected visitors, and other likely damage.
It would also consider the reaction of local people to foreign visitors and possible claims of discrimination between Thai returnees, who must enter quarantine, and foreign travellers, both from countries inside and outside the travel bubbles.
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said he would propose the travel bubble plan to the prime minister next week. Pairing would apply to countries where Covid-19 is not spreading.
Travel bubbles would be initially for people attending international meetings and training sessions, engineers and technicians, and foreign teachers returning to work at international schools in Thailand. They would not be for foreign tourists, he said.