First golf quarantine group arrives in Thailand

Pilot villa quarantine scheme allows pre-approved foreign visitors to move about resort freely, after arriving in a travel "bubble".

This article was originally found on Meetings & Conventions Asia.

The first group of golf quarantine visitors has arrived in Thailand, marking the start of a villa quarantine scheme that allows pre-approved foreign visitors to enter the Kingdom and move freely about a resort as part of a travel "bubble".

On 18 February, Thapanee Kiatphaibool, deputy governor, tourism product and business, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) announced the arrival of a South Korean group in to Phuket via Twitter. This group was then joined by two consecutive groups of foreign visitors.

According to a Thai government spokesperson, the foreign visitors hail from Brazil, Canada, France, Denmark, Ukraine and the US. They have been travelling together on a chartered aircraft, and have been repeatedly tested for Covid-19 in the countries they visited. The Bangkok Post reported that the 59 wealthy foreign tourists travelled in a "bubble" and arrived from Indonesia, before checking into villa quarantine at Sri Panwa Hotel in Phuket.

These visitors will stay in their rooms for the first five days of their 14-day quarantine, after which they will permitted to leave their rooms and make use of the facilities within the resort grounds.

Thailand had earlier approved golf quarantine for foreign golfers at six approved golf resorts in the country. This list of government-approved golf resorts will allow foreign golfers with advance arrangements to move around in the resort environment and also play golf, rather than just having to isolate in their rooms.

In December, the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), in collaboration with Department of Disease Control, announced health-compliant itineraries as part of a special policy to allow overseas investors to enter the Kingdom quarantine-free. This also included training MICE and travel industry personnel as specially-appointed International Visitor Assistants (IVA), who will accompany and facilitate visitors during their stay.

"The new training initiative to support the government's special arrangement for quarantine-free entry is the latest effort to help revive business travel to Thailand and benefits both the visitors and local workers," said TCEB senior vice president - MICE Capability and Innovation, Supawan Teerarat.

"The visitors will gain the assurance that their interest and welfare will be well taken care of, while the local workers will gain a new skill and raise his or her market value. The training will contribute towards the sustainability of MICE industry in the long term. Most immediately, however, it will help save jobs during this challenging time."

The Thai authorities said this group of tourists will mark the first tourists to make use of villa quarantine scheme. If this initial programme works and ongoing Covid-19 testing is successful the pilot programme will be expanded after this proof of concept.

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