Thailand's southernmost town of Betong is set to reopen to tourists on Dec 1 as the vaccination rate there was already at over 70 per cent.
Yala provincial governor Pirom Nilthaya said the province is expected to reopen fully for tourism by the New Year, with the popular border town of Betong reopening even sooner.
He said 90 per cent of locals in Mueang district and 70 per cent in Betong district have already been vaccinated against Covid-19.
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 spruced up to receive visitors with anti-Covid measures in place.
He added that Betong Airport, the 29th airport under the Airports Department, has passed operations checks and will soon be ready to reopen, with Nok Air and Bangkok Airways showing interest in flying into the province.
Betong Tourism Association deputy president Narin Rueangwongsa said the province reopening next month would rejuvenate their businesses that have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said Betong tourism operators have also agreed to join the government's tourism stimulus programmes, which will last until January.
Over 500 million baht is projected to circulate in the local economy if the province is reopened, he added.
Meanwhile, Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said he has appointed a commercial attache at the Thai embassy in Kuala Lumpur and the Foreign Affairs Ministry has discussed the reopening of the Takbai and Bugeta checkpoints in Narathiwat.
On Oct 15, he had 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.
The Post reports him saying that the reopening of the two border checkpoints will help increase border trade activities between Thailand and Malaysia by at least 600 million baht per year.
Businesses in the southern provinces near the borders will also be able to export more products to Malaysia, he added.
Jurin said the Commerce Ministry aims to speed up talks to reopen additional checkpoints with neighbouring countries such as the Tha Sen checkpoint in Trat province and the Ban Nong Ian border checkpoint in Sa Kaeo province.
Trade between Thailand and Cambodia is expected to grow if the two checkpoints are allowed to reopen.
Thailand has reopened a total of 48 checkpoints, including those at Tak Bai and Buketa, with 49 still closed due to the pandemic.
Thailand's cross-border trade, including transit trade, tallied 1.2 trillion baht between January and September, up 31.6 per cent from the same period last year.
Last year, overall border trade, including transit trade, fell 1.7 per cent from the previous year to 1.31 trillion baht, mainly due to the pandemic which forced borders to close.
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