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



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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