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No tourists until 2021 – Thailand shuns travel bubbles and general travel

Tanutam Thawan



PHOTO: Throw open those borders. Maybe in 2021.

Thailand is currently caught in a number of quandaries that will continue to threaten the economy and stability of the country. Meanwhile the borders remain largely sealed, with the prospect of general tourist travel being pushed forward until at least 2021.

There have been a number of official comments to support the prediction that Thailand’s borders will remain closed to general traveller traffic for at least the rest of this year. From the Thai aviation authorities and a deputy governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

At a webinar last week the deputy governor for international marketing at TAT, Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, said there was “no talk of a timeline issued for reopening the country to inbound or outbound leisure travel during weekly Covid-19 national meetings”.

He said he doesn’t expect Thailand to welcome tourists until at least 2021. He noted that discussions about potential re-openings had been very “risk averse”.

“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.”

Earlier plans for travel bubbles, with similarly low-risk countries have also been shelved at the moment as some of the potential countries have had recent spikes, including Vietnam, Australia (mostly Melbourne), Japan, and just today, New Zealand.

Its first Covid-19 outbreak in 3 months Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, is back on lockdown. The country went 102 days without a local transmission, until yesterday with the announcement of 4 new cases found in an Auckland home. A further 4 probable cases have been identified today.

New Zealand became the envy of the world after it was able to completely contain local transmission of Covid-19 with a strict nationwide lockdown in April and May. Today, businesses again close around Auckland and chances dwindle of the nation re-opening its borders.

Just yesterday, Thailand’s Civil Aviation Authority says there will be no further re-opening of the Kingdom’s borders for the time being. Director-General Chula Sukmanop says that any decision to re-open to international air traffic needs to be taken in conjunction with the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

Meanwhile the list of groups allowed back into Thailand, under strict health measures, has been expanded at the start of August from just diplomats and UN officials, to business people, investors who have an agreement with the government, film crews, some migrant workers, medical tourists, exhibition personnel and the holders of Thailand Elite visas (although there are restrictions on the total numbers). All arrives, including Thais, must spend 14 days in state sanctioned quarantine.

Thai officials are also trying to manage growing unrest amongst activists and students whose protests are growing in size, and attracting undue attention from police. A number of arrests and charges have already been actioned but the government will be keen to settle the situation to avoid any further negative publicity about the country’s political situation.


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  1. Avatar


    Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 2:13 pm

    “All arrives, including Thais, must spend 14 days in state sanctioned quarantine.”

    That’s not entirely true. If you’re the king of Thailand, you can just skip on through. Rules don’t apply to all Thai’s. Some Thai’s are just more equal than others.

  2. Avatar

    Thomas Easton

    Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 2:17 pm

    Well if that’s what the government of thailand wants then good luck to them and I hope the economy dies a slow death which results in the downfall of the current government, put simply this disease is not going to go away any time soon and they have to learn to live with it like many many other countries or risk returning to third world country status, as many companies will refuse point blank to invest in Thailand if they can not travel freely to set up businesses.

  3. Avatar

    Ray W.

    Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 3:25 pm

    Good job North Korea… I mean Thailand, way to be. Hope the insane perpetual oppressive lockdown goes well – it won’t, you’re out of your minds. Good luck with all the mass misery and suffering – but maybe low covid infection numbers; but more deaths from poverty, crime, and depression – really solid work here.

  4. Avatar


    Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 3:37 pm

    Continuing in this way, soon there will be no one who will be able to help the needy because they will have to worry about themselves

  5. Avatar


    Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 4:08 pm

    the 1 % own 70 % of the country soon they own 99 % but of nothing, well done you idiots, thailand shot it’s own foot, normal when you have a government with guns…

  6. Avatar

    Perceville Smithers

    Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 4:47 pm

    They need to rethink this and not for the benefit of tourists but for the livelihood of people dependent on tourism industry.

  7. Avatar


    Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 5:02 pm

    Shows what happens when you have the Military in charge. They have no grasp of reality outside the Officers Mess. No understanding of Economics but a really good understanding on how to keep the civilian population in check. Short sighted stupidity.

  8. Avatar

    Tony T

    Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 5:25 pm

    I have already lost money with Thai Airways cancelling my flights 4 months ago and refusing to refund as well as losing my money on the apartment. You cannot contemplate booking flights now to subsidise them so will book my month away in December elsewhere with a country gratefully receiving foreigners.

  9. Avatar

    Bobby m

    Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 6:56 pm

    All of the above and more.

    You talk about allowing Aviation recovery when you choose to do so.

    You omit to realise that the airlines also have a choice. They may well not want to risk including you in any further routing schedules due to your inability to handle this situation in a sensible and controlled way and zero confidence in any lasting trust.

    Then you will be reliant on the already bankrupt Thai Airways.

    Oh and let’s not forget. The airlines need passengers to bring and we also have a choice as to where we spend our hard earned money.

    Good plan guys. That’ll work NOT.

  10. Avatar


    Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 7:00 pm

    Interesting comments…I would say the opposite..well done Thailand for getting COVID out and not following the incompetent West and well done too for listening to your people and keeping borders closed…

    I would have one question though. Foreigners on amnesty are supposed to leave before 26 Sept…how can they if the borders remain closed?

    • Avatar


      Friday, August 14, 2020 at 5:15 pm

      Ian you dumbo people can already leave now, there are flights out. Obviously you are an idiot who knows very little.

      • Avatar


        Saturday, August 15, 2020 at 2:14 pm

        please stay polite, and you seem to be the one knowing little, most flight going out are canceled and people don’t get refund, so it’s normal no one want to book a flight anymore, land border should be open before kicking farang out

        • Avatar


          Monday, August 17, 2020 at 1:41 pm

          I have to say that as an Englishman I look at the chaotic bungling that is going on in blighty and I think the Thai governments handling has been excellent in comparison. I live near to Prasat, Surin district, face masks are compulsory as are temperature checks at most shops and markets. There was a ban on the sale of alcohol with a one day a month amnesty which went on for a couple of months. For a while the police were setting up checkpoints to ask where you were going and, I assume, turning you back if you were leaving the district. All of this done in a calm authoritative manner, now what’s the problem with that. Given the fact that Thailand is well into the 100 countries affected by COVID I can’t fault them.

  11. Avatar


    Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 7:18 pm

    Thailand doet niets anders wat diverse andere landen ook doen met het verschil dat Thailand het virus al onder controle heeft EN WIL HOUDEN. Al de klaagzangen van (sex) toeristen zijn zinloos. 95% van de Thais wil de toeristen niet terug en accepteert de mindere welvaart. Trouwens het toerisme zal razendsnel opleven na een vaccin of behandeling. Kijk een naar de Thaise bath die geen krimp geeft. Een teken dat investeerders WEL door de huidige situatie heen kijken en volop vertrouwen houden in de Thaise economie.

  12. Avatar


    Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 7:29 pm

    Thailand does nothing else what several other countries do, with the difference that Thailand already has the virus under control AND WANTS TO KEEP it. All the lamentations of (sex) tourists are pointless. Because 95% of Thais do not want the tourists back yet and accept the less prosperous. Besides, Thai toerisme will i.m.o. revive very quickly after a vaccine or treatment. Look also at the Thai bath that remains strong. A sign that investors remain confident in the Thai economy and the future!

    • Avatar

      bobby m

      Thursday, August 13, 2020 at 1:43 pm

      Hi Roger

      Just a couple of points sir.

      The 95% that do not want tourists to return has already been accused of being constructed by using a very small sample measure. There is a new poll reported on today that in fact 85% are confident in the return of tourism.

      I don’t know your currency sir, And how it is performing against the Thai Bhat, but if you look back on Thaiger, you will see that the Thai baht is now the worst performing currency in the ASEAN block.

  13. Avatar

    Khaja Sarfaraj Mansur

    Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 7:42 pm

    A death sentence to the hope of millions….. But Thai people will react…. People will get desperate…. some Govt propaganda polls showing ‘Thai people doesn’t want Tourist’ will not be enough to cover up the misery of millions of Business owners, jobless people and their families. It is understandable why Govt. getting more nervous regarding any kind of protests….

    Thailand need tourists…. The impact is too significant for Thai economy….

    Just look at Bangkok city….. Airports, mega mega shopping malls, Condos, big luxury to small Hotels, Restaurants, Tuk Tuk, Taxis, Mosaiks, Night Food markets, Night Life, and list will go on…..

    Think Bangkok city without tourists….

    Just think Pattaya & Pukhet without tourists……

    How long???? You think corona will disappear in 2021!!!!!

    The call is too big…… please reconsider…..

    • Avatar

      Tony Jones

      Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 9:27 pm

      The Thai government are pressing the self destruct button if they carry this out. Do they really think that all the tourists are going to wait patiently for the borders to reopen and then flock in their droves once given the go ahead. Eh I don’t think so, some might, but human nature will show that people will find other destinations to go to instead who are prepared to open.

  14. Avatar

    Jimmy De.

    Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 8:16 pm

    Well done again corrupt Thai government and not even thinking about the Thai people no money no food I applaud you again it’s only going to get worse but do the government care? Absolute ridiculous

  15. Avatar

    Jack Sombra

    Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 8:51 pm

    On Friday, probably not opening this year, on the Monday, they are talking Island plan again

  16. Avatar


    Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 9:16 pm

    Inexplicable to me is impossibility for a _paid_ extension of tourist visas as border runs are not available at this time. So people, who are already in the country, pay rent, buy food, etc., now have to leave.

  17. Avatar


    Thursday, August 13, 2020 at 12:07 am

    What about those of us who Have Retirement – O
    Visas and need to return to Thailand before Jan 2012, to Renew our Retirement Visa???? Not to mention that we have 800,000 baht or more in our Thai bank accounts and we’re stuck outside of Thailand

  18. Avatar

    John Williams

    Thursday, August 13, 2020 at 12:13 pm

    The government cannot find a safe enough way to bring back tourists needed by the Thai economy. Then at the same time it wants to kick out on September 26 the 300,000 to 400,000 foreign visitors that bring 30 billion baht per month to Thailand?

  19. Avatar

    John B

    Thursday, August 13, 2020 at 2:47 pm

    I think the people commenting that Thailand really should open its borders and put tourism economic gain ahead of experiencing a pandemic again are crazy. If the resulting death wasn’t enough of a concern Thailand would need to shut down the country again to resolve the inevitable outbreaks. That said, there seems a potential middle ground in getting long-stay visitors to live in Thailand, more retirees interested in at least spending a year to ride out the pandemic that is happening elsewhere. Adding testing and quarantine requirements would reduce that risk. They wouldn’t be the five star tourism guests that Thailand would rather welcome, but thousands of foreigners spending savings here would bolster some local economies.

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