In mid-June, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha made a speech on national television broadcasting the government’s goal to reopen Thailand within 120 days.
Reopening, needless to say, is a highly desirable goal. Take the Phuket Sandbox, which launched to great fanfare and is being heralded as a small but significant first step in Thailand’s reopening to the outside world. As journalist Matt Hunt wrote, despite deep skepticism elsewhere, Phuket’s residents and business owners are optimistic and happy to contribute to make it work. It represents a lifeline after over a year of darkness: an opportunity to bring back income and jobs.
Yet the Phuket Sandbox is one thing. Reopening the entire country is another entirely. Almost a month has now elapsed since this ambition was declared. Instead of dismissing this pledge, it is time to examine it closely. To promote the prospect of bringing tourism back into a tourism-hungry nation raises the hopes of many. But can it happen, responsibly?