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Asia Minute

Asia Minute: Thailand lifting restrictions in several tourist destinations

Virus Outbreak Thailand Tourism Coronavirus Kata Beach
Adam Schreck/AP
FILE - A surfer carries his board ashore as the sun sets over Kata Beach on the resort island of Phuket, Thailand on Sunday, May 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Adam Schreck)

As a new month gets underway, rules are changing in some places when it comes to travel restrictions related to COVID-19. Businesses in Thailand hope to boost the largest piece of the country’s economy: tourism.

Starting Wednesday in many parts of Thailand, bars, pubs and karaoke lounges can re-open for business, and stay open until midnight.

That goes for the 31 provinces that are currently in the COVID low-risk “green zones” of the country.

It includes many popular tourist destinations from the streets of Bangkok and the beaches of Phuket to the northern mountainous area of Chiang Mai.

Some rules still apply. Customers need to show proof of vaccination while employees have to take an antigen test at least once a week.

But Thailand’s government is slowly easing some of its COVID rules — with an eye on the tourism sector — which usually makes up about 12% of the country’s overall economy.

Phuket has scheduled two tourism conferences in early June, not only to talk about developments but also to encourage larger gatherings — 400 are expected at one — and more than 700 at the other.

But compared to some other tourist destinations in Southeast Asia, Thailand has been slower to ease some restrictions.

Singapore and the Philippines have been faster to rebuild their hospitality industries, and so has Bali in Indonesia.

Still, Thai tourism officials say a more significant rebound will come later in the year.

The country’s usual peak travel season starts in October.

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