According to Thethaiger.com, Thailand is expected to reopen its international borders to international tourist only in 2021 – a prediction from the deputy governor of Tourism Authority of Thailand.
Speaking at a webinar hosted by Mekong Tourism and TravelMole, the deputy governor for international marketing at TAT, Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, noted that there has been “no talk of a timeline issued for reopening the country to inbound or outbound leisure travel during weekly Covid-19 national meetings”.
The Thai government is “very, very cautious” in its approach to reopening borders and said he doesn’t expect Thailand to welcome tourists until at least 2021.
“I see no signal from the government that the country will open this year. That’s putting lot of pressure on the tourism industry. The Christmas period, usually the high season, is in jeopardy and I’m looking horribly even to Chinese New Year in February, which is an iffy proposition at best now. Unfortunately, this is not a rosy picture.”
Discussions about the creation of travel bubbles have also stalled.
“Last month, there was talk about forming travel bubbles. That talk has not continued so far because of outbreaks in many of the countries we were hoping to get tourists from, including Vietnam.”
Meanwhile selected groups of foreigners are allowed back into Thailand, under strict health measures and it has been expanded from diplomats and UN officials, to business people, investors who have an agreement with the government, film crews, some migrant workers, exhibition personnel and the holders of Thailand Elite visas with conditions set including their country of departure and must spend 14 days in state sanctioned quarantine.
The TAT deputy governor also added that safe bubbles plans that were also being discussed earlier so that leisure travel taking place among selected countries, with a proposal that all visitors spend a minimum of 30 days in in designated areas – probably islands, such as Koh Samui or Phuket has stalled as the government is taking a wait-and-see attitude.
With uncertainties surrounding the reopening of borders to international travel, Thai tourism operators are proposing a new inbound tourism plan, called “Safe and Sealed”, to replace travel bubbles.
During a joint meeting of the Tourism and Sports Ministry and the private sector chaired by tourism and sports minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, tourism-related groups proposed letting tourists return to Thailand in Q4. As compared to the travel bubble scheme, the plan envisages safer, more flexible screening procedures for many countries.
“Only visitors from cities with a record of zero infections for at least 30 days will be selected, and they will only be able to travel and stay in designated hotels and provinces. Other conditions include a Covid-free certificate 72 hours before flights, as well as insurance and swab tests.
The tourism sector used to employ 4 million workers pre-Covid, but with businesses having zero revenue over the past 6 months, unemployment in the sector could soon exceed 2.5 million.