While many countries are rushing to reopen their borders to international tourists, Thailand is not jumping the bandwagon and a prediction from a deputy governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand is that the country may remain closed until the end of 2021.
Although a recent market research survey suggests that four out of five (82%) Thais are confident that Thailand is well-prepared to reopen its tourism and leisure activities, Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, Deputy Governor for International Marketing at TAT 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”.
Ayudhya added that the government is “very, very cautious” in its approach to reopening its borders and said that he doesn’t expect the country to welcome tourists until 2021.
Ayudhya said, “I see no signal from the government that the country will open this year. That’s putting a 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,” he said.
There had been discussions within the TAT about creating travel corridors with certain countries like Vietnam, but the discussion bogged down after Vietnam’s recent Covid-19 outbreaks in July. Additionally, the high numbers of infections in neighboring ASEAN countries like Indonesia and the Philippines make Thailand anxious.
Meanwhile, the list of people allowed back into Thailand, under strict health measures, has been expanded from diplomats and UN officials, and now includes business people, investors who have an agreement with the government, film crews, some migrant workers, exhibition personnel and the holders of Thailand Elite visas.