Tourism-dependent places will get high priority in vaccination drive

17 Feb 2021

The Covid-19 task force of the government says that places such as Phuket and Pattaya, which are reliant on foreign tourists, will be considered a "high priority" for vaccination. The Pattaya News reports that the announcement was made at a press conference yesterday by Apisamai Srirangsan, assistant spokesperson for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration. 

To inoculate enough of its residents to achieve herd immunity, the southern island of Phuket, along with some other tourism-dependent locations, had planned to purchase vaccines privately. It was hoped that this would mean that, starting in October, the island could re-open to foreign visitors. However, in a move that generated furious criticism from the tourism sector, the government has put a stop to the plan.

Places like Phuket and Pattaya are almost entirely tourism-based, with both listed in 2019 in the top 20 most visited cities.

Each welcomed around 10 million tourists per year, with Pattaya relying almost 80 percent of its GDP on tourism. That figure is more like 90 percent in Phuket. 

Apisamai says that while medical frontline workers and other vulnerable people remain first in line for Covid-19 vaccines, vaccination workers in the tourism sector will also be listed as "high priority". The details of the government's planned vaccine rollout, however, remain unclear, nor is it yet known if it would include ex-pats, many of whom would fall into the vulnerable category.