Thailand shelves ‘travel bubble’ plan amid virus spike

Thailand shelves ‘travel bubble’ plan amid virus spike
Thailand continues to ease pandemic restrictions as the country attempts to revive its battered economy. (AFP)
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Updated 07 August 2020

Thailand shelves ‘travel bubble’ plan amid virus spike

Thailand shelves ‘travel bubble’ plan amid virus spike
  • Thailand had a record 39.8 million tourists in all of 2019, spending 1.93 trillion baht

BANGKOK: Thailand has delayed plans for a “travel bubble” agreement with select countries as new daily coronavirus cases rise in parts of Asia, putting pressure on its vital tourism industry and complicating efforts to revive its battered economy.

Thailand first proposed the idea in June to allow movement between select countries that have low infection numbers, without the need for travelers to undergo quarantine.

But that has been shelved, officials said, amid second and third waves in East Asian countries that previously had their outbreaks under control.

“We are delaying discussion of travel bubble arrangements for now given the outbreak situation in other countries,” Thailand’s coronavirus taskforce spokesman, Taweesin Wisanuyothin, told Reuters.

Despite more than two months without confirmed local transmission and recording only 3,300 cases, Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy is facing its worst crisis in several decades.

Foreign arrivals plunged 66 percent in the first six months of the year, to 6.69 million. The industry has warned that at least 1.6 trillion baht ($51.5 billion) of revenue could be wiped from the Thai economy this year.

By comparison, Thailand had a record 39.8 million tourists in all of 2019, spending 1.93 trillion baht.

“Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea were among those considered (for a travel bubble) because those areas had a low number of cases, but now they were in double-digits so discussions were put on hold,” Taweesin said, referring to new daily infections.

Reviving talks would depend on the situation in each country, which the taskforce was assessing daily, he said, adding that was a widely accepted industry view.

The island of Phuket has instead proposed receiving direct flights from those countries, with tourists and business executives doing two-week quarantines in their hotels before going out.

“We are asking for travel, charter flights, into Phuket,” Phuket Tourist Association President Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, told Reuters.

Although demand for long stays would be lower, it would be a start, with occupancy of 40 percent to 50 percent sufficient for hotels to survive and avert job losses, Bhummikitti added. 


Deutsche Bank appoints new manager to Riyadh branch

Thamer Saleh Al-Sedais has been appointed general manager of the Riyadh branch of Deutsche Bank. (Supplied)
Thamer Saleh Al-Sedais has been appointed general manager of the Riyadh branch of Deutsche Bank. (Supplied)
Updated 21 January 2021

Deutsche Bank appoints new manager to Riyadh branch

Thamer Saleh Al-Sedais has been appointed general manager of the Riyadh branch of Deutsche Bank. (Supplied)
  • Thamer Saleh Al-Sedais will oversee business activities regulated by the Saudi Central Bank
  • Deutsche Bank is aiming to return to profitability after more than €15 billion ($18.2 billion) in losses over the past five years

JEDDAH: Deutsche Bank, Germany’s biggest bank, has appointed Thamer Saleh Al-Sedais as general manager of its Riyadh branch.

He will oversee its business activities regulated by the Saudi Central Bank, and will facilitate the ongoing delivery of Deutsche Bank’s products and services to its clients based in the Kingdom. The German lender has operated a branch in the Saudi capital since 2006.

Al-Sedais joined Deutsche Bank Group in Saudi Arabia in 2020 as a director in the wealth management division.

Before joining the bank, he held several senior treasury and wealth management sales positions at the Saudi British Bank and NCB Capital.

He holds a master’s degree in financial economics from California State University in the US.

Deutsche Bank is aiming to return to profitability after more than €15 billion ($18.2 billion) in losses over the past five years.

It announced in December that it plans to cut more costs in order to meet its profitability target for 2022, in addition to leaving some businesses and reducing staff by 18,000, Reuters reported. Deutsche Bank forecasts revenues of €24.4 billion by 2022.

In November 2020, Moody’s removed a negative outlook on the bank’s credit rating, saying it had progressed to a firmer strategic footing.

The improved performance in 2020 was mainly driven by increased sales and trading revenues, which climbed 47 percent in the third quarter, the Financial Times reported. Analysts expect the bank to return to profit in 2021, Reuters reported.