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Businesses in Thai border town mulls “sandbox” scheme to lure Malaysian tourists back

The private sector, in Thailand’s border district of Sadao in Songkhla province, is to propose the “Dan Nok Sandbox” scheme to the governor, to reopen the commercial town to arrivals from Malaysia, tentatively in November.

An advisor to the association of business operators in Sadao district, Suthiphong Sitthipataraprapha, told Thai PBS that businesses in the commercial district have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years, resulting in more than 80% of the businesses, which depend heavily on tourist arrivals from Malaysia, being shut down.

He said that, in Malaysia, 31.8 million doses of vaccines have been administered so far, with 41.7% of its population being vaccinated, adding that 70% of the people in Malaysia are expected to be fully inoculated by the end of October, which will coincide with the Thai government’s target date for the reopening of the country to foreign arrivals.

Suthiphong said that all employees in Sadao district must be fully inoculated within October, whereas arriving tourists from Malaysia must show their certificates, to confirm that they are fully inoculated, and have tested negative within 72 hours prior to their arrival.

Meanwhile, Mr. Surapol Kampalanonwat, president of the Association of Travel Businesses of Songkhla province, said the association is seeking at least 30,000 doses of vaccines from the Public Health Ministry, to be injected into employees in the tourism sector in October, adding that it will not be possible for the province to reopen to foreign arrivals if fewer people are inoculated.

He pointed out that, if the “Dan Nok Sandbox” scheme proves successful, similar schemes can be used to cover Hat Yai district, touted as the commercial capital of Thailand’s southern region, which is also being badly battered by the pandemic and the sharp drop in tourist arrivals from Malaysia.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)

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