BANGKOK: Thailand has pushed back plans to reopen Bangkok and some other major cities to foreign arrivals until November, due to COVID-19 vaccination rates falling short of targets, a senior official said on Wednesday (Sep 22).
Earlier this month, officials said that they planned to welcome vaccinated tourists without quarantine to major cities like Bangkok, Hua Hin, Pattaya and Chiang Mai in October to revive the country’s crucial tourism sector.
"Cities we've targeted have not reached 70 per cent vaccination rates and so we have to push out the date to November," Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor Yuthasak Supasorn told Reuters.
Despite being a production hub for the AstraZeneca vaccine, Thailand's vaccine roll-out has struggled to keep pace, though Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha pledged on Wednesday to speed up inoculations.
So far, 44 per cent of residents in Bangkok have received two doses, government data shows. Overall, Thailand has vaccinated 22 per cent of the estimated 72 million people living in the country.
Up to now, the tourism scheme has only been launched on the islands of Koh Samui and Phuket.
Thailand welcomed 40 million arrivals in 2019 - who accounted for more than a fifth of the country's gross domestic product - but is targeting 1 million visitors this year.
At least 98 per cent of Thailand's more than 1.5 million COVID-19 infections and 15,753 deaths have been recorded since April this year due to an outbreak driven by the Delta variant.