Welcome to Thailand, where you can go here – but not there.

Countries in every far reaching corner of the globe are weeding through proposals on how to safely reopen travel, and reboot the vital economies tourism brings. In Thailand, the early thinking is to create tourist corridors, where a buffer would exist between locals and visitors. It’s odd, but it could create just what the country needs to open to outsiders, particularly in island resort areas.

For countries which fared relatively well in the battle against covid-19, the greatest challenge in opening up borders is protecting the sacrifices made, and the health and safety of locals going forward. One way to do that? Put all the tourists onto islands, creating a literal sea buffer between them and the general population.

This is precisely what Thailand is looking to do. Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of Thailand’s Tourism Authority, told CNN, when speaking of the potential plan…

“This will be beneficial for both tourists and local residents, since this is almost a kind of quarantine,”

Thailand’s Islands, including Koh Samui, Phi Phi, and Koh Lanta are some of the most sought after tourism destinations in the world, with economies almost entirely dependent on tourism. Whereas cities such as Bangkok have diversified economies and millions of commuting locals, where an outbreak could quickly undo the good work the country has put in, creating safe zones around tourists would alleviate many of these concerns.

Who wouldn’t want to see Maya Beach, the beach from “The Beach”?

Passengers would transfer airside onto connecting flights through major hubs, avoiding the general population and would then be able to visit the many resorts which line these islands, without coming into close contact with millions of locals. As previously discovered in the Maldives, quarantines are much easier on islands than in cities.

Naturally, this doesn’t solve everything. Locals who staff resorts, hotels, bars, restaurants and attractions would be in contact with visitors, but with most staying on the islands for extended periods of time, contact tracing and other measures could keep any issues out of the mainland.

This is creative thinking from Thai authorities, which could make the country one of the first to open borders to Westerners, with the control elements in place via an island barrier. The question is now when?

Resorts are hurting, people would love to visit, and this seems like a logical step in ensuring safety for residents, but opportunity as well.

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