One of the most asked questions these days is when tourists will be allowed to travel to Thailand again. Many have already booked flights for later this year, but will they actually be allowed into the country? I doubt it very much.
The End of Mass Tourism
Thailand airports and borders have remained closed since the end of March, with the only people being allowed to enter the country being Thais that were stranded abroad, diplomats and some people with work permits.
Even foreign husbands and wives of Thai nationals have not been allowed to enter the country. Likewise for those that hold Permanent Residence or have Elite visas.
Those that have been allowed to enter have all had to undergo 14-day quarantine.
The result of this has been that locally transmitted COVID-19 cases have dropped to zero for almost four weeks. Life within Thailand is now returning to normal, apart from the tourism sector.
Now that there is no local COVID-19 transmission, the last thing the government wants to do is open the gates to mass tourism, as that is sure to bring another wave of COVID-19 that the country can ill afford.
So what’s the solution? According to Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, the solution is to target wealthy individuals that value privacy and social distancing, instead of large numbers of general tourists.
This will mean the end of mass tourism for the foreseeable future. The government plans to only allow small groups of tourists to enter the country and even these will have to undergo health checks bother before leaving their home countries and when arriving in Thailand.
And that is not all. They will likely have to choose a single island to stay at when they arrive, and won’t be allowed to travel elsewhere until they have been there for 14 days. The initial travelers are likely to be able to stay only in places like Phuket, Samui, and a few other islands.
The tourists that will be targeted will be from countries that have COVID-19 under control and where there is a bubble pact arrangement with another country. Australia and Japan have been mentioned as probably being among the first of these.
Tourists that stay at high-end resorts generally spend five times as much as other tourists, so if Thailand can successfully target this group, they can rebuild a successful tourism industry without the mass tourism of the past.
The tourism minister suggested that full and free travel should become a thing of the past.
It was also mentioned this week that Thailand may not open for international flights until September. The wealthy tourists that they willto target will mainly come in the high season, which is from December until January.
So if you’re a backpacker from Europe or the USA, I just can’t see you being able to travel to Thailand this year. Maybe things will ease up next year if the pandemic subsides worldwide, but it could also take years to get back to normal.
We’re both in Thailand at the moment and are so grateful to be here. This is where we felt safest. Thailand has done a great job of containing the virus. See How Thailand Beat COVID-19 for our assessment.
Let us know what you think.