Bangkok reopens on 15th October if vaccination plan succeeds

After various dates were floated, it seems Thailand has finally decided on a cursory date for Bangkok’s reopening.

If all goes as planned, come 15th October 2021, everyone’s favourite shop-till-we-drop city that never sleeps, may be ready to welcome fully-vaccinated visitors from all over the world once more.

This ambitious goal was announced in a joint press conference between the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, and Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuangon, on 15th October 2021, reports Thairath.

Along with Chiangmai, Pattaya, Cha-Am and Hua Hin, these cities are rostered to reopen progressively to tourists, on the back of the Phuket Sandbox Scheme’s perceived success.

Here’s what else Bangkok will have to accomplish, in order to hit their target of reopening the city to travellers by mid-October.

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Bangkok reopens from 15th October 2021, if vaccination plan succeeds

The city of Bangkok is slated to reopen to global travellers who’ve been fully vaccinated within a month’s time, on 15th October 2021.

After careful consideration of the motion to reopen in parliament, it was decided that the city would prioritise the safety of citizens in raising second-dose vaccination rates to 70% of the population, before scheduling the reopening.

bangkok reopens
Image credit: Alejandro Cartagena 🇲🇽 via Unsplash

Currently, first-dose vaccination rates are already at 70% of Bangkok’s population – of which 37% are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. By mid-October, the city intends to dispense second-doses to fully vaccinate the remaining 33% to hit their targets, reports CNA.

For context, this mid-October reopening date’s been pushed back by 2 weeks compared to the OG 1st October start date,  originally floated by the Tourism Authority of Thailand on 6th September.

Which cities are next after Bangkok & Chiangmai?

Besides Bangkok and Chiangmai, Hua Hin and Pattaya are also listed as possible cities of interest working towards reopening.

If this wave of re-openings is successful, we can expect Thailand to allow other planned cities to follow suit:

  • Chiang Rai
  • Koh Chang
  • Koh Kood

The criteria for identifying these spots for targeted reopenings are apparently dependent on them having a higher citizen vaccination rate than the national average of 14%.

Travel bubbles with neighbouring nations, those with relatively controlled Covid-19 situations are in the works for next year, reports Bloomberg.

To reopen the city of Bangkok, however, will be a tricky but worthwhile endeavour, conceded the Minister of Tourism Pipat Ratchakitprakan in his Facebook post after the announcement.

Reopening Bangkok will be tricky due to the city’s density

The minister shared his concerns after consulting with Bangkok’s Governor and the Faculty of Public Health in a joint conference.

bangkok reopensImage credit: Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn on Facebook

He raised the challenge of managing Bangkok’s large city premises, population and location at the heart of the nation, as it does have “areas in contact with many provinces” adjacent to the city.

Balancing all trade-offs – the safety of the nation, the costs of operation, and reviving the tourism industry – will thus be trickier for densely populated Bangkok.

This could mean that the Sandbox model, will have to be adapted to adhere to Bangkok’s specific needs.

While we await more information from the authorities regarding the tourist quarantine requirements, here’s what we do know about Phuket’s strategy thus far.

Phuket Sandbox sets a precedent on what to expect

Using the Phuket Sandbox Scheme as a precedent, tourists can expect similar mechanics – in terms of staying in specific SHA+ certified hotels for 1 week, before being able to head out to explore the rest of the cities.

Based on TAT’s figures, the Phuket Sandbox Scheme is currently perceived as a ‘success’, with 26,000 vaccinated tourist visits in the first 2 months, generating at least ฿1.6 billion (~USD$49 million) in revenue.

As for the Covid-19 situation, TAT states that less than 1% of international visitors tested positive for Covid-19.

It’s good to note that though these figures can be attributed to Tourism Ministry officials, these policies are subject to changes depending on the unfolding situation. For the latest updates, do head over the TAT’s site.

Thailand doubles down on reopening plan in October

The reopening of Bangkok is no doubt part of Thailand’s efforts to bolster international tourism, and support the rebuilding of the economy that has been hit hard by the effects of the pandemic.

With Bangkok’s gradual easing of lockdown measures, we do hope that Thailand’s ambitious plan for Bangkok’s reopening will go as smoothly as possible.

More importantly, that the figure of a 70% fully-vaccinated rate for civilians will be hit ASAP, so the city can strike a balance between keeping citizens and potential tourists safe.

Cover image adapted from: Alejandro Cartagena 🇲🇽 via Unsplash

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