BANGKOK (REUTERS) – Thailand has welcomed players from South Korea to the country’s new golf quarantine program in a bid to boost tourism revenue hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
About 40 South Koreans are being quarantined at Artitaya Country Club, an hour north of Bangkok, where they were tested on arrival last week, Thailand Deputy Tourism Authority Deputy Governor Thapanee Kiatphaibool told Reuters.
Thailand has been successful in controlling coronavirus cases, but strict border controls have devastated its tourism industry, with revenue falling 83 percent after passing from 40 million visitors in 2019 to 6.7 million last year.
The golf quarantine program is attracting only a handful of the estimated 250,000 South Korean players who visited Thailand in 2019, but officials hope it will increase to six approved courses that have specific health measures.
The South Koreans who arrived last week are staying in hotel rooms for three days and may be out on course after the results of their first coronavirus test come back negative.
They are tested again on the ninth and 13th day of their stay before being discharged from quarantine.
“There have been ongoing bookings,” Thapanee said, adding that the program began by targeting short-term markets that carry low to moderate risks such as Singapore and Hong Kong.
Thailand has kept the number of coronavirus cases at 25,599 infections and 83 deaths by closing its borders, but the tourism industry, which contributes about 12 percent to its economy, has been hit hard.
In 2020, revenues fell to 332 billion baht ($ 14.6 billion) from 1.91 trillion baht a year earlier.
Each tourist in the program will generate revenue of at least 100,000 baht, she said.
“Tourists can go and enjoy other destinations after quarantine, so there will be more revenue at least two to three times higher than the average,” Thapanee said.
The Artitaya Country Club Seoul office said the package cost 49 2.49m (US $ 3,000) for a 15-day stay – including meals but not flights – with interest coming from Koreans doing business in Thailand, student-athletes and academia of golf in search of private practice facilities. .
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