A visitor poses on the Mahanakhon SkyWalk, Thailand's highest rooftop and observation deck, in Bangkok. AP
Tourism stakeholders in Thailand, host to half a million Middle East and North Africa citizens and 130,158 Emiratis in 2019, have begun gearing up for the arrival/return of foreign visitors even as the reopening of the premiere Suvarnabhumi Airport and other international gateways across the Southeast Asian kingdom, has yet to be calendared.
"We are ready to welcome you. We hope you return to us,” said Phuket Tourist Association President Bhummikitti Ruktoengam.
"We do not have the virus now (locked down for some time in April). But we have as our guests sea turtles. They have returned. We recently found 15 nests and 1,000 eggs,” said Tourism Association of Koh Samui Group president Vorasit Pongkumpunt.
A 5G K9 robot distributes hand sanitiser to visitors in a shopping mall in Bangkok. AFP
It was an implication that the dreaded highly infectious upper respiratory Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) had re-birthed nature.
As of 11:57 GMT on Friday, total COVID-19 cases in Thailand were 3,146 with 3,008 recoveries/discharged and 58 deaths.
Ruktoengam and Pongkumpunt were among the eight guests of the "Amazing Thailand-Destination Updates” webinar on Friday (UAE-2pm), hosted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand-Bangkok, under the Ministry of Tourism and Sport.
The webinar, beamed to 1,500 participants in 30 countries, was organised a month after the authority spearheaded the "Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration (SHA) Certification Criteria and Programme in May, a solution to the pandemic.
Regional Director Pichaya Saisaengchan in Dubai told Gulf Today then: "SHA certification puts emphasis on hygiene and sanitation measures across all stakeholders in the travel and tourism sector in order to inspire confidence in our visitors and assure them that we are taking all the necessary precautions during their time with us.”
Discussed at the webinar was the Thai virus contact tracing mobile phone app. The app was developed locally some time in May, when Bangkok decided to reinvigorate the economy through the re-opening of shopping centres.
A man braids hair for a customer at Khao San Road, empty of tourists due to the restrictions in Bangkok. AFP
In reply to a forwarded question, Thailand Incentive and Convention Association vice president Prachoon Tantiprasertsuk said the app is not obligatory but an option for both domestic and foreign tourists.
She added the tool is for the safety of its users, immediately notified in case they were among those "for example in a restaurant at a time an (infected person was around).”
With almost everything going virtual, Tantiprasertsuk said tourism stakeholders are keen to apply pro-active online presentation of possible venues for the so-called MICE (Meetings-Incentives-Conventions-Events) to clients.
On responsible products, Tantiprasertsuk mentioned that at Dusit Hotels and Resorts where she is the Sales vice president, introduced were "care kits” in lieu of the traditional welcome drink and fruit basket for guests.
A care kit takeaway consists of masks, hand sanitisers and gels.
Discussed at the webinar too are the creative approaches, adopted by the hospitality/ food and beverage sectors, local government entities and allied services in the eight featured destinations that include Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, Pattaya, Krabi and Phang-Nga, for the health and safety of their guests.
Thais took in a movie and enjoyed foot massages in a welcome return on Monday to some pampering and popular pastimes as coronavirus restrictions further eased and new infection numbers remained low.
After President Duterte further relaxed quarantine restrictions and allowed more businesses to reopen, leaders of nearly 100 medical organisations held an online news conference and warned that the health system may collapse as many medical personnel fall ill or resign out of fear, fatigue or poor working conditions.
Preliminary projections make the availability of one or several vaccines seem possible by autumn 2020," the Robert Koch Institute said in a statement on its website, citing a global effort to bring immunisations to market.
Only a few months ago residents of the impossibly picturesque Austrian village of Hallstatt were debating how to stem the influx of tourists thronging its narrow streets, nestled between soaring mountains and a sparkling lake.
The media said that the lioness was fleeing from its owner in a street in Mosul, running amok in broad daylight among the vehicles.
Since the conflict began on Friday, 31 Palestinians — including six children — have been killed, while 275 people have been wounded, said health authorities.
Speaking during a visit to Bangladesh, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said his country's actions were "legitimate, reasonable, in accordance with the law," and aimed at protecting China's "sacred sovereignty."