BANGKOK, 30 June 2020: Right at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic I was absolutely sure people would only travel again if they felt it was safe to do so in the new Covid-19 world, and when they have the spare cash to do so.
My conviction to that mantra is as solid today as it was all those months ago. While Thailand today is considered safer, with no new local infections for the past four weeks – what about the rest of the world?
With new regrettable milestones being reached this weekend – now over 10 million cases and 500,000 deaths globally – most predictions appear to have been widely off the mark. No more so than in the United States.
With 1 in 4 of all coronavirus cases and deaths globally within its borders – 2,510,000 cases including 44,000 new cases daily and 125,000 deaths – the USA is worst of all.
The BBC reported that in India, the capital Delhi is now the country’s worst-hit area, with about 73,000 recorded cases of Covid-19 and at least 2,500 deaths.
Delhi has had many challenges, including a fragmented local and regional provincial government that did not always see eye-to-eye and a population that lacked the will to follow hygiene and social distancing guidelines. It is also a state with many borders making containment difficult.
For Thailand, we have been well managed. No new cases or deaths reported for a long time, leaving the total number at 3,162 cases and 58 deaths since January. No new local infection for 31 days, and no more fatalities.
We have been very strict, with a strong Thai government in control, and excellent compliance from its citizens even during the curfew, when it was in place. What is happening across the world is important to Thailand. We must sit up and take notice. Why?
Whether we like it or not, we are very much interconnected. With 10 million cases globally, that is 1.5 people in 100 who are infected, and some reports suggest it could be higher. Without Covid-19 under control globally, we are all affected.
Is it responsible to open our borders and airports in Thailand to visitors from around the world when countries in Europe, the Americas, Middle East and Asia are still seeing coronavirus hotspots and deaths? As a person heavily invested in hospitality and tourism, I am reluctant, but have to say yes, it would be irresponsible.
This week Thailand is expected to make a number of major announcements. The Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) will disclose details of the easing of Phase 5 restrictions, due to begin 1 July.
I cannot see the government risking all the good work of the past 95 days since the State of Emergency in Thailand was declared on 26 March 2020 for the sake of travel and tourism jobs. The Thai government will not gamble on opening borders and airports completely. It would be such a risky move.
European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, had some encouraging words when talking about vaccines. She announced that the European Union would do all in its power to ensure that everyone has access to a vaccine, irrespective of where they live.
She also said that we must be ready to manufacture and deploy such a vaccine across Europe and the world. Especially to poorer countries. Why?
Because she too recognises our connectivity. That we are all interlinked and no one is an island. We are all interconnected.
This statement is fine for Andrew Wood who, in his own words, has been a ‘wealthy retiree’ in Thailand for the past 10 years. This pandemic has caused immense financial hardship for owners and staff globally. Businesses are facing bankruptcy and employees are experiencing severe financial hardship. Many former hospitality sector employees are unemployed. They do NOT need contributions from armchair wealthy self-titled ‘media experts’ sitting in the luxury of their penthouses who have little comprehension of what is going on. It’s time for governments to re-open borders safely and securely in line with the WTTC Safe Travel guidelines. Even so, it is likely to be many years before tourism can claim a complete recovery. The world needs international travel. For industry, commerce, leisure, and entertainment. Further delays simply hasten the burial of more and more businesses. Please support my appeal at https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/open-the-borders-now-to-save-livelihoods-and-lives that pleads for governments to re-open borders strictly under WTTC guidelines.
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