Thailand faces the deepest touristic crisis ever amid the global pandemic caused by the novel pathogen. The Thai government announced that its famous beaches will not be open until the effective anti-COVID vaccine becomes available, Bloomberg News has learned.
Thailand is really interested in discussions about travel bubbles with the neighbouring countries like China and Japan as the nation considers protocols for the eventual return of foreign tourists.
In fact, local tourism has already restarted in Thailand. The nation is set to welcome the first batch of foreign tourists in six months, is unlikely to fully throw open its popular beaches and national parks to overseas visitors until a vaccine against the COVID-19 is widely available.
The Thai authorities will probably allow the entry of only a limited number of foreign visitors for a few months before considering further easing of curbs, Chairat Trirattanajarasporn, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, said. The national council, which represents local tourism operators, doesn’t expect full reopening of the borders until vaccines become accessible, he added.
Over just six months of lockdown, the virus has devastated Thailand’s tourism industry, which provided more than $60 billion in revenue from about 40 million foreign visitors in 2019.
Thailand will welcome the first tourists next month
Phuket airport will welcome about 150 Chinese nationals on Oct. 8, these visitors are first set of foreign tourists to visit Thailand after the COVID-19 hit the globe in March. The government’s plan could provide a model for how other tourist-reliant economies around the world — from New Zealand to Greece — could reopen more safely to international travellers.
According to the touristic council, it’s good for the country to reopen even if it’s just for trial. Once Thailand has tested its reopening plan for a month, the local business can assess how to go forward and allow more visitors to come in.
Meantime, tourists will be quarantined for two weeks on arrivals and will need to stay for a minimum of 90 days as authorities seek to maintain Thailand’s relative success in containing the pandemic despite it being the first place outside China to get the virus.
The cabinet this week also extended a state of emergency until the end of October to allow government to enforce mandatory quarantines and streamline disease-control plans without multiple approvals from various agencies.
Thai businesses that rely on foreign tourists, especially in Phuket, Samui, Pattaya and Chiang Mai, will continue to close in the coming months because there would only be a small group of people coming in after the reopening.
A government campaign to boost travel by locals through hotel and air travel concessions has failed to make up for the slump in earnings and continued restrictions on foreign tourists may send the nation’s economy into a second straight year of contraction in 2021, according to Bank of Thailand’s Senior Director Don Nakornthab.