Dr Satit Pitutacha, Deputy Minister of Public Health (centre), Dr Thongchai Keeratihuttayakorn, Deputy Director General of the Health Service Support Department (left), Dr Tharet Karatnairawiwong, Director General of the Department of Health Services Support (3rd from the right) and Mr John Brown, Chief Executive Officer, Agoda (3rd from the left) attended a press conference to announce the ASQ initiative.
Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) and Department of Health Service Support (HSS) have announced they will leverage Agoda’s cutting edge digital technologies to further improve accessibility and efficiency for the booking processes of Alternative States Quarantine (ASQ) packages for Thai repatriates and in-bound travellers during COVID-19. This collaboration makes Thailand one of the first countries in the world to digitalise the booking process.
Returning Thais and inbound travellers will be able to search for and book MOPH-approved ASQ properties via a dedicated booking platform (www.agoda.com/quarantineTH) that allows the traveller to search availability, room type, and pricing in real-time. Quarantine hotel package bookings are required as part of the process to obtain approval from the local Thai embassies to enter Thailand.
The automation of the booking process benefits both the participating hoteliers and travellers by simplifying the search and booking process on one easily accessible platform. It allows MOPH and HSS to focus their efforts on maintaining health and safety standard protocols for participating in ASQ properties. Initially, the listed ASQ properties on the platform include those in Bangkok, Chonburi, and Phuket.
Dr Satit Pitutacha, Deputy Minister of Public Health: “With COVID-19 declared a contagious pandemic under the Communicable Disease Act 2015, the COVID-19 Situation Management Centre stipulated all travellers from abroad be screened, isolated, and quarantined, or quarantined for surveillance, prevention and control in the instance of localised cases of the disease.
“Therefore, government agencies including the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Public Health worked in close cooperation and collaboration to prepare for and provide a place to detain those travelling from abroad, in accordance with criteria and guidelines for disease control. In the same spirit, today’s announcement is a collaboration between the government and the private sector to help stimulate the Thai economy and help entrepreneurs to generate income.”
Dr Tares Krassanairawiwong, Director General of the Department of Health Service Support: “Alternative State Quarantine, ASQ, is an important mechanism that aims to benefit Thailand in two ways. The first factor is in the prevention and control of the spread of COVID-19, and the second is as a stimulus to help drive the economy by generating income for entrepreneurs.
“For these hotel entrepreneurs to be part of the ASQ programme however, they must pass strict standard checks in six categories from the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Defence. These include safety protocols that ensures on-site personnel fully equipped with medical supplies and training, processes that minimise disruption to the wider community and have an environmental management system to protect and control guests, and thus prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Alongside these requirements is the professionalism of our hospitals to support foreign travellers and Thais repatriating. ASQ helps to promote the country’s economy with the 113 hotels participating as ASQ properties generating 1.2 billion baht revenue for Thailand to date. ASQ facilities, which allow flexibility to choose where to stay for quarantine, can be one way to attract foreign tourists again from all over the world and generate income for the country.”
John Brown, Chief Executive Officer, Agoda: “Agoda will bring its technical expertise to make the ASQ initiative as efficient and accessible to the public as possible while ensuring at the same time that the Ministry can continue to focus on preserving travellers’ and the public’s safety. This type of government and corporate collaboration allows us to deliver the final product as quickly and cost-effectively as possible – which is critical during a crisis like this.
“Agoda has a team of over 1,000 tech engineers in Bangkok working around the clock on cutting-edge solutions for customers, businesses, and governments across the globe. We strive to innovate and improve the travel experience every day, and technology is at the heart of everything we do, so we are thrilled to be part of this ground-breaking project here in Thailand.”
The digital booking platform for ASQ is now live (www.agoda.com/quarantineTH), with more technology partners expected to join the programme in the coming months.