A tourist wears a face mask to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease at sunset near the Grand Palace on January 7, 2022. (Photo Reuters)

The government must drop all Covid travel restrictions before the tentative June 1 date to save the economy before it’s too late, says the founder of Minor International (MINT).

“The removal of the Thailand Pass as part of the Test and Go program on June 1 is too late. We believe the lifting of all travel restrictions should be done immediately as the rest of the world is already opening up,” said William Heinecke, founder and president of MINT.

Many people want to visit the country during Songkran and Easter, but too many restrictions deter tourists, he said.

Thailand is suffering as the government has slashed tourism opportunities, forcing many hotels to start laying off workers again after watching inflation rise, Mr Heinecke said.

“I hope the Minister of Public Health and the Prime Minister will carefully consider this matter and make the right decision to help the economy before we die,” he said.

Without travel rules, Thai tourism will rebound within a year, even without the Chinese market, as seen in the Maldives, which has already surpassed pre-pandemic levels, Mr Heinecke said.

Saudi Arabia, which has reestablished relations with Thailand after a 32-year hiatus, is a high-spending, quality market the industry can target, he said.

The wellness segment has great potential to attract tourists from Europe and the Americas, which are currently the main food markets for Thai tourism, Heinecke said.

Minor Hotels, the hospitality arm of MINT, recently launched new wellness services from VLCC, India’s largest beauty and wellness operator.

With a budget of 20-30 million baht, Avani + Hua Hin, which is popular in the Indian market, is the first resort to offer VLCC’s services.

The company plans to roll out this service to other locations in Thailand and overseas.

Minor Hotels plans to add new wellness, dining and sports products to 550 hotels worldwide, he said. The company plans to open another 50 new hotels over three years, he said.

VLCC, which operates at 217 locations in 12 countries across Asia, the Middle East and East Africa, will support wellness workforce and amenities in partnership with Minor Hotels.

Minor Hotels is also partnering with wellness brands Clinique La Prairie, Vivid by Verita Health and RAKxa to capitalize on the US$1.1 trillion global wellness market.

With a goal of having more than 100 wellness offerings at its properties within five years, Heinecke said revenue from the spa and wellness segment should account for 10% of total revenue.