Thailand's southernmost town of Betong will be ready to reopen its gates to tourists on Dec 1 as the vaccination rate there was already at over 70%, according to the Yala provincial governor.
Pirom Nilthaya said the province is expected to resume tourism by the New Year while Betong can reopen even sooner next month, as 90% of locals in Mueang district and 70% in Betong district have already been vaccinated against Covid-19.
Mr Pirom said several popular tourist sites in the province, such as the Anyorweng skywalk, hot springs, historical Malayan communist tunnel and flower fields, have been made ready to receive visitors observing anti-Covid measures.
Betong Airport, the 29th airport under the Airports Department, has passed operations checks and will soon be ready to open, he said. Nok Air and Bangkok Airways have shown interest in flying into the province, he said.
Narin Rueangwongsa, deputy president of the Betong Tourism Association, said the association has spoken with members of the tourism sector, noting they wanted the province to reopen next month to rejuvenate their businesses.
Mr Narin said Betong tourism operators have agreed to join the government's tourism stimulus programmes, which will last until January.
Over 500 million baht is projected to circulate in the economy if the province is reopened, he said.
Pruek Wongnamroj, president of the Betong Hotel Club, said 26 of 28 hotels, with a total of 1,773 rooms in Betong district, have been approved under the Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration (SHA) standards and two other lodgings are undergoing the process.
Mr Pruek said 100% of executive officers and workers have received their second shot of the Covid-19 vaccine and will be tested using antigen test kits every week.
Hotels are expected to sanitise their floors and touching points every two hours to build trust among visitors.
Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said he has appointed a commercial attache at the Thai embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the Foreign Affairs Ministry discussed the reopening of the Takbai and Bugeta checkpoints in Narathiwat on Thursday.
The Malaysian government said the checkpoints could reopen on Monday, Mr Jurin said.
On Oct 15, he held a meeting with border officials and private sector members who urged the government to speed up the reopening of border checkpoints to resume border trade.