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Coronavirus Thailand

Tourism ministry floats long-stay travel packages

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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PHOTO: Jakarta Globe

The Covid-19 outbreak has crushed Thailand’s tourism industry, already battered by a flat high season in the previous year, and with the national ban on international arrivals extended until at least May 30, and domestic travel still heavily restricted, the situation isn’t likely to improve soon. But the coronavirus crisis, like all things, will pass, and Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Ministry is proposing long-stay packages for foreign tourists seeking “disease-free destinations”.

The head of the ministry, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, says that while international tourists are expected to gradually return after the domestic market revives, Thailand needs an appropriate marketing strategy to cope with the new, post-Covid norm of travellers.

“The ministry is working with the Tourism Authority of Thailand to set up a model which will attract a specific group of travellers to visit chosen areas.”

The perennial favourite island resorts of Phuket, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan will be the pilot destinations to welcome high end international tourists.

“Because those destinations are only reachable via limited gateways, provincial authorities can ensure thorough screening of incoming visitors and provide more comprehensive prevention measures against the potential import of the virus compared to other major destinations, such as Bangkok, Pattaya and Chiang Mai.”

TAT offices abroad are now courting the long-stay market, which normally spends more than average tourists, while 4- and 5-star hotels are promoting packages to their regular guests.

“The outbreak allows Thai tourism to shift its focus to quality tourists rather than quantity.”

Disease-free tourism packages are set to launch during the fourth quarter of 2020 which is when tourists from Western countries usually seek warmer destinations.

But TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn warns that when the pandemic in Thailand is finally brought under control, international travellers must not become the cause of a second wave of infection. Yuthasak believes once domestic tourism resumes, locals will travel in smaller groups, and that land transportation will be the popular choice, thanks to lower oil prices.

New health screening practices for tourists before flying to Thailand may become the standard in the future. Proposals include “immunity passports” or risk-free certificates.

“If the tourism industry cannot bounce back stronger from the downturn, it will be difficult to restore the overall economy.”

SOURCE: Bangok Post

 

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