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Thailand sold itself as a paradise Covid retreat. No one came

• Bangkok Post

Yet more than three months after the resort and more than a hundred like it reopened to extended-stay travellers in an attempt to revive Thailand's battered economy, foreign arrivals have failed to meet even rock-bottom expectations. Just 346 overseas visitors have entered the country on average each month on special visas since October, according to the Thailand Longstay Company, which helps facilitate the programme. That's well below the government's target of about 1,200 and a tiny fraction of the more than 3 million who came before the pandemic.

The tepid response to the country's highly publicised reopening illustrates the difficulties facing tourist-dependent countries as they try to shore up economic growth while also protecting citizens from Covid-19 before vaccines become widely available.

The government had hoped to lure retirees escaping the European winter and others who could stay for an extended period. They would have to go through quarantine, but that could be done in the comfort of high-end resorts in a country that had been relatively unscathed by the pandemic. After two weeks, Thailand would be theirs to roam for as long as nine months.


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