The Tourism Authority of Thailand expects 100,000 fully vaccinated tourists to arrive in newly reopened Thailand before Oct. 1.
TAT Gov. Yuthasak Supasorn said June 26 that the arrivals estimate was downgraded due to Thailand’s surging numbers of coronavirus cases and the unexpected extra restrictions the government has layered on the Phuket “sandbox” which begins July 1.
The original plan called for fully vaccinated foreigners to spend a week in Phuket before moving to other provinces. As the July 1 date neared, the government doubled the amount of time people must spend on the island, added the requirements for three Covid-19 tests costing a total of 8,400 baht or more, and added mandatory tourist surveillance and other rules that prompted 50,000-plus tourists to cancel their bookings.
Nonetheless, Yuthasak said, TAT is ramping up marketing in countries with low numbers of coronavirus cases, including Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and parts of China.
Chamnan Srisawat, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, said that the announced plan to open Thailand’s tourist provinces within 120 days is a positive sign for the tourism industry, but requires aggressive vaccination of the public against Covid-19.
Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, said the 120-day timeline gives foreign tour operators confidence to sell travel packages and market Thailand.
He said that just because Thailand is reopening doesn’t mean people will come in large numbers, however. It also depends on travel restrictions and quarantine requirements by other countries.
Marisa Sukosol Noonpakdee, president of the Thai Hotels Association, said the reopening announcement was good news as it will coincide with the traditional high season. Hotels and resorts also can start their marketing now.
The government’s strategy is to reopen Phuket as a “sandbox” for vaccinated tourists July 1, then allow “sealed route” travel to Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao July 15, followed by Krabi province and its islands, along with Khao Lak and Khao Yao in August.
Pattaya would not reopen until October.
All the reopening, however, depends on the government vaccinating 70 percent of the local populations against Covid-19 beforehand. At the current pace, that seems unlikely.