Pattaya’s tourist recovery program likely to be delayed

Governments around the world recommended vacations at home in 2020. Nothing much has changed in 2021.

The latest evidence concludes that large numbers of European sun-worshippers are unlikely to visit Thailand any time soon. The Long Haul Travel Barometer, published by the European Travel Commission, says that the advice of virtually all EU governments to their citizens is to avoid long-distance travel because of the problems associated with virus variants.

France has now banned all non-vaccinated nationals from travelling long-haul unless they can prove “pressing grounds” and obtain a special permission known as a certificate of international travel. The British government strongly recommends holidaying at home for all this year, whilst the largest UK tour operator TUI has cancelled virtually all of its holiday flights.

Whether coming or going, international travel is an obstacle race these days.

TUI has also announced the cancellation of booked holidays with non-TUI flights, including Thailand, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and the UAE. A spokesman said there is still a lot of uncertainty about foreign travel because Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that step four of the UK lockdown-relaxation roadmap will not now go ahead.

Meanwhile, Pattaya’s plan to be selected as a pilot Sandbox project has run into roadblocks according to the Chonburi Tourism Council. Acting president Thanet Supornsahasrungsri said, “The first few months may be patchy as the flip-flop on regulations may derail holiday plans for Thailand,” in remarks made to the Bangkok Post.

He added that 80 percent of hotels on the Eastern Seaboard remained closed and that only a handful of Pattaya’s near-60 tourist attractions had managed to keep open. Meanwhile, Chairat Rattanopas, president of the local spa and wellness association, said that Pattaya’s best plan was to concentrate on the mass vaccination of 450,000 people in the Greater Pattaya area. Without that, he surmised, international tourism in the resort could not resume.

The macro problem for Thai tourism is that the governments of huge potential markets – China, Russia, India and Japan – are either banning their citizens from travel abroad or laying down very strict re-entry rules such as 21 days supervised quarantine. UK and EU authorities are strongly discouraging vacations in the Far East and other long haul destinations. The US State Department advises wannabe tourists to Thailand to “reconsider their plans”. Polite but firm.