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Restrictions on tourism maintained

By CHENG SI | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-10-22 09:30

The Chinese mainland is maintaining the suspension of outbound group tours and inbound tourism due to the high risk of a resurgence of coronavirus infections this winter.

A notice issued by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism on Wednesday said the government will tighten control and prevention measures against COVID-19 cases, which may rebound in colder weather.

It said operators of travel agencies must normalize control and prevention measures, and they cannot offer services to nonresident foreigners. Outbound group tours are also forbidden.

The ministry stressed that when people with suspected symptoms are discovered at tourist sites and facilities, local tourism operators and officials should send them to quarantine as soon as possible to prevent any potential spread of the virus.

The ministry said that tourism bureaus and companies are required to share instructions on coronavirus prevention with the public through broadcasts, websites and notice boards to better enhance awareness of self protection. They are also urged to offer training in maintenance of personal safety during domestic trips to their own staff members and other workers in the industry.

Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of Thailand's tourism authority, said that 41 Chinese travelers flew into Bangkok from Shanghai on Tuesday. They held special tourist visas granted by the Thai government earlier this month.

It is unclear whether the travelers went to Thailand via a travel agency or on individual tours. Under the current suspension guidelines, Chinese citizens are not allowed to take outbound trips that are part of a group tour.

The travelers will be quarantined for 14 days before starting their trips in the country. They will go through quarantine again when they return to China.

Heavily dependent on tourism-related revenue, Thailand is eager for the return of foreign travelers to help revive its economy after the nation suspended inbound tourism in April to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

Launching special tourist visas is the first step. On Sept 15, Thailand's Cabinet approved such visas for travelers who plan to visit the nation for longer periods.

The visas, which took effect this month, allow visitors to stay in the country for up to 90 days initially. They can be extended twice, potentially granting the visitor a maximum 270-day stay in the country. However, it's not easy for Chinese people to travel overseas at the moment because of the measures many countries are taking against the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention released a notice last month reminding Chinese residents to avoid taking any unnecessary trips abroad.

Travelers who leave the mainland may be quarantined as long as 28 days depending on the control and prevention measures put in place at their destinations.

Wang Huabei, a member of online travel agency Lvmama's public relations department, said travelers leaving the mainland should protect themselves by following control and prevention instructions given by the Chinese government and contact local medical teams as soon as possible whenever they feel sick.

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