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Travel & Leisure

Thailand fishes for tourists with yacht quarantine perk

Government now lets travelers isolate at sea as well as on the golf course

Visitors spend their two-week quarantine on a yacht in the tourism destination of Phuket.

BANGKOK -- Visitors to Thailand can now while away their mandatory two-week coronavirus quarantine on a yacht, as part of a bid by the government to revive the country's crucial tourism industry.

The government's Digital Economy Promotion Agency, along with partners including top telecom group Advanced Info Service, announced the yacht quarantine program on Monday.

This adds to an earlier option of quarantining on a golf course, aiming to bolster a tourism industry that accounts for about a fifth of Thailand's gross domestic product.

Visitors with a negative coronavirus PCR test will be able to spend the quarantine period on board a yacht or small cruise ship in Phuket, a popular tourist destination hit hard by the pandemic. The program has already begun accepting yachters for a trial run.

Participants are required to wear a smart wristband that monitors vital signs including temperature and blood pressure, as well as tracks the wearer's location via GPS. The device can transmit information even at sea, within a 10 km radius.

A South Korean visitor plays golf during a quarantine at a country club in Nakhon Nayok, Thailand.   © Reuters

Thailand banned foreign tourists in March 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. While the country has gradually reopened to travelers since October, the two-week quarantine remains an obstacle to tourism-dependent businesses.

Meanwhile, the Tourism Association of Thailand reported Sunday that the first round of tourists to take advantage of a new golf quarantine program completed their two-week lockdown. The group had arrived from South Korea in mid-February.

The Ministry of Public Health in January added golf courses in areas including Kanchanaburi Province to the list of designated quarantine locations, giving golfers an alternative to staying cooped up in a hotel. Packages start at roughly 90,000 baht ($2,900), including green and cart fees.

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