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Thailand’s international borders not re-opening for tourists until 2021 – TAT



Thailand is unlikely to reopen its borders to international tourists before the end of the year – the prediction from a deputy governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

Speaking at yet another webinar, this time hosted by Mekong Tourism and TravelMole, the deputy governor for international marketing at TAT, Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, 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”.

He spoke of the Thai government’s “very, very cautious” approach to reopening borders and said he doesn’t expect Thailand to welcome tourists until at least 2021.

“I see no signal from the government that the country will open this year. That’s putting 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.”

Discussions about the creation of travel bubbles have also stalled.

“Last month, there was talk about forming travel bubbles. That talk has not continued so far because of outbreaks in many of the countries we were hoping to get tourists from, including Vietnam.”

Meanwhile the list of groups allowed back into Thailand, under strict health measures, has been expanded from diplomats and UN officials, to business people, investors who have an agreement with the government, film crews, some migrant workers, exhibition personnel and the holders of Thailand Elite visas.

But there are also conditions set on these categories of people allowed back into the country, including their country of departure. Everyone must spend 14 days in state sanctioned quarantine.

Thailand is also opening up to select countries for medical tourism.

The TAT deputy governor also added that plans are being discussed safe bubbles that can be formed for leisure travel, with a proposal that all visitors spend a minimum of 30 days in Thailand. This would be in designated areas – probably islands, such as Koh Samui or Phuket.

“Currently, this is not moving forward as the government is taking a wait-and-see attitude. They want to see how the current groups of foreigners, such as film crews and diplomats, do first. There is still a lot of nervousness.”

With uncertainties surrounding the reopening of borders to international travel, Thai tourism operators are proposing a new inbound tourism plan, called “Safe and Sealed”, to replace travel bubbles.

During a joint meeting of the Tourism and Sports Ministry and the private sector chaired by tourism and sports minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, tourism-related groups proposed letting tourists return to Thailand in Q4. As compared to the travel bubble scheme, the plan envisages safer, more flexible screening procedures for many countries.

“Only visitors from cities with a record of zero infections for at least 30 days will be selected, and they will only be able to travel and stay in designated hotels and provinces. Other conditions include a Covid-free certificate 72 hours before flights, as well as insurance and swab tests.

The tourism sector used to employ 4 million workers pre-Covid, but with businesses having zero revenue over the past 6 months, unemployment in the sector could soon exceed 2.5 million.

Meanwhile, EVA Air has announced today that it is pushing back its re-introduction of flights to Phuket from next month until at least March next year.


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  1. Thomas Easton

    Monday, August 10, 2020 at 1:48 pm

    Well this news is already 3 days old And if the goverment of Thailand want to kill of one of their major industries then go for it, they can cope with the homelessness, suicides, increase in theft etc that will come of killing tourism, I’ll just find somewhere else to spend 2 months at the end of the year and give the money I’ve saved for the holiday to another countries tourism

  2. mark jamieson

    Monday, August 10, 2020 at 3:49 pm

    Mark Barry Oh my – Why don’t we follow Germany’s example? Travellers have to have negative test within 24 hours of travelling and medical insurance covering covid – then a test at the airport on arrival – if they are positive customers for the hospitals that are hurting -if negative all good and business as usual – win, win – maybe some fine tuning but seems to me a way to go – especially in a country like thailand that has virtually no cases so can handle some cases surely

    • Khaja Sarfaraj Mansur

      Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at 2:30 am

      Sorry friend

      It’s not about Corona Virus….

      It’s about their xenophobic mentality……

      This is unfortunate for Thai Tourist Industry and those people who is helpless to see an unknown future…..

      Heart broken

      • Jimmy Dee

        Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at 11:15 pm

        The Thai government don’t give a damn about their own people and their all corrupt too shame on you.. It’s just a little common sense needed then thailand can get back to its former self or if not maybe go back 40 years and the baht is killing foreign tourists too… Major overall needed sooner than later please don’t let you’re own people down or this could be disastrous

    • Steve Kanter

      Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at 11:41 am

      Unfortunately, Mark, you often can’t get results of tests back for days or more. So how can a person time their holiday, specifically an overseas one, in that case? I buy my ticket, make hotel reservations in the country I am visiting and then my results are delayed? Also, how can it even be timed for exactly 24 hours before my flight?? So, as a result, all that money and planning for that trip down the tubes.

  3. Glenn

    Monday, August 10, 2020 at 5:47 pm

    “The tourism sector used to employ 4 million workers pre-Covid, but with businesses having zero revenue over the past 6 months, unemployment in the sector could soon exceed 2.5 million.”

    yea I guess it could eh? More like 4M unemployed. Oh, don’t forget the supporting businesses in the tourist industry.

    All for a flu that has (if you actually believe the numbers) a 0.25% infection rate and a 0.0094% fatality rate. (more people die from coconuts falling on their heads).

    Govt may as well just come out and declare there will be no more tourists and the T&T industry is finished, done, over, put a fork in it!

    • Mike frenchie

      Monday, August 10, 2020 at 9:51 pm

      Correct and please add the biggest part of the real estate industry (condo), restaurant and satellite services (lawyers…). Bailing out 25% of the Thai economy collapsing will not be easy when the other 50% are severely impacted (agriculture and electronics are both down 25%). They will change their mind or the IMF will be there mid 2021…

    • Henry

      Monday, August 10, 2020 at 11:25 pm

      “All for a flu that has (if you actually believe the numbers) a 0.25% infection rate and a 0.0094% fatality rate.”
      Argh while I sympathies with the situation and I basically lost my tourist business on this, the numbers you present Glen, is purely number manipulation and does not reflect what are real if no measurement were taken
      As soon as the borders open, there will be a new outbreaks. We can see that in every other tourist country. Stay safe !

      • Daelle

        Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at 1:52 am

        Look – COVID Test at the entry (airport) 10 days quarantine and after 7 days second COVID Test – and good is – what the fuck should be wrong with this ??? Stay safe but don’t exaggerate !!!

      • Mike Frenchie

        Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at 6:36 am

        If you are below 60 and without precondition, this virus is non lethal for the immense majority! BTW – ‘Stay safe’ is impossible when driving motorbike in Thailand and nobody cares… people must stop believing that COVID is such a big deal for most!

  4. tony collington

    Monday, August 10, 2020 at 6:23 pm

    I read with great interest your story on international tourism not until 2021. Myself and a few of my friends have been unwillingly, but happily stuck in phuket since march. We buy and hand out water to desperate thai waiting in queue for government food. We clean the government beaches around phuket, phi phi, ao nang, bang toa. We buy local thai produce. We cook and deliver food to homeless Thai.
    We are happy spending our money in thailand, yet we are going to get kicked out on 26th september. We wish the Thai government would not say ‘do not over stay your welcome’ but say ‘if you want to stay and help towards economy during these difficult times then your welcome to stay’ We have many thai friends, some of us have thai girlfriends with no work (who live with us and we support).
    Government needs to look at the big picture from what is happening on streets with crime and desperation, not from an office !!
    Write an article if you would like to.
    We met a Thai family from pattaya who were on Ko phi phi. They were disgusted by states of beaches, they said they would never come again.

    • Khaja Sarfaraj Mansur

      Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at 2:38 am

      You are a good human my friend….

      But Thai Govt. need money…. try a Elite visa…. you are welcome….

      I feel pity for those millions who need to survive with tourism …..


    Monday, August 10, 2020 at 9:09 pm

    Certainly, Thailand has every right to keep its borders closed and for whatever reason they like. Polls show the Thai people are afraid of COVID-19 and weary of foreigners. So the government feels safe in its decision. Curiously, how many thousands of Thais are dying on the roads each year with nearly no action taken? The concern, to me, is not about saving lives but about taking Thailand back in time.

    • Bobby m

      Monday, August 10, 2020 at 11:17 pm

      Your so right Robert.

      If They continue along this path it will undoubtedly return Thailand to a third world country, so sad.

  6. Bobby m

    Monday, August 10, 2020 at 11:13 pm

    Agree with Glenn

    Please get real Thailand.

    You are openIng your borders to investors. Really, who on earth do you believe will invest in an economy that is about to hit the floor. Ask yourself “would you invest”. The rest of the world is now learning to live with and control this virus as much as possible. Isn’t it time you did the same.

    Yes there is risk, but I am sure it’s lower than deaths caused in Thailand by poor driving, poorly maintained vehicles, overloaded lorry’s and alcohol.

    Will you close your doors every time a new strain of virus arrives on the planet. This is not the first, nor will it be the last. If you cannot see and understand what the rest of the world is doing to handle it, along with their own economy. Then I am afraid you can give up all hope of any investors.

    • Lindsay

      Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at 12:06 am

      Or they could have just let the tourists that were here, Covid-free, spending money, and who wanted to stay-(and STILL want to stay)-stay here without making things so complicated. Why throw away a safe, functioning tourist industry when you already have one?

  7. River

    Monday, August 10, 2020 at 11:41 pm

    This is sad. Just trying to make it there to see my fiance, family and friends. Seems like I will have to wait another maybe a year before I can get back to there. Smdh. This will break me

    • hopeless soul

      Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at 1:57 am

      Stay strong I am in the same boat 🙁

    • Steve

      Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at 2:21 am

      I am in the same position, we brought new house, completion was 6th August just. I am not a tourist, she is my partner, they wish to break the Tourist Industry so the Rich can buy up real estate at 50% of value , the 1% in Thailand own 65% of country but want to own the other third too. Back handers are in place, Military, Police have guaranteed jobs , 20% of population will go bankrupt as support for tourism is many more millions that will now sink too

  8. Daelle

    Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at 1:58 am

    Look – COVID Test an the entry (Airport), then 10 days quarantine and on the 7th day a second COVID Test – Done and good is !!! Where is the problem – this government is insane – maybe they don’t let in even there is a vaccine ? Come on !!!!! Something wrong here ….

  9. Ray W.

    Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at 2:16 am

    So effective economic ruin, lost livelihood, mass mystery and suffering, and a slow 4+ year recover… all for what is clearly at this point a low fatality flu… great plan, more people to die from the poverty and depression, you cowards are super good at planning, way to be.

    • Simon

      Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at 1:37 pm

      Indeed Ray. No planning, fear mongering by the government, estimated 8.4 million people unemployed due to this pandemic according to the World Bank. Way to go.

      In 2019 well over 130,000 people got infected with dengue, and between 130-200 people died ( depending on which statistic you read). I do not recall Western countries stopping flights to Thailand nor calling them Dirty Thai.

      Currently over 6 million people live in poverty (number pre-Covid), add the new unemployed and you will be well over 15 million. A grim future for Thailand.

      • Rinky Stingpiece

        Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at 8:49 pm

        The difference is that this virus has a more problematic risk profile than Dengue.
        Dengue is transmitted via biting insects that can be avoided or exterminated, hence it’s not classed as contagious like forms of influenza, coronaviruses, rashes (chikungunya, poxes, and measles), polio, menengitis, rabies encephalitis, hepatitis, HIV, herpes, gastroenteritis. Dengue is haemorrhagic like Ebola and Yellow Fever, and the victims of these tend not to be able to pass it on as much as airbone respiratory viruses.
        Some of those are transmitted by specific types of risky activity or exposure.
        So you’re left with respiratory viruses that are airborne, rather than fluid-borne, and that’s the problem.
        Not to mention that it makes rich and powerful old men suddenly more vulnerable than they used to be.
        The real risk is not so much the coronavirus itself, as its ability to mutate, and then we’re in a sort of sci-fi plot scenario, where human mass extinction, or at least dramatic population reduction, is on the cards.
        Imagine Favelas of Brazil, slums of Africa, India, SEAsia, with open sewers, rats and faeces everywhere… it’s the four horsemen of the apocalypse… crimate change destroying food (famine), mutating airborne viruses (pestilence), economic collapses prompting insurgency and conflict (war), and the breakdown of civilisation (death).
        I understand the dismissiveness, but the current situation could get a lot worse, and if you want to imagine how that might look… take a trip to Lebanon.

  10. Perceville Smithers

    Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at 2:34 am

    Thai Gov is using this time to rebrand itself when it opens for tourism. I think just like Las Vegas did yrs ago, Thai Gov wants to shed the party image and be family orjiented by discouraging certain visitors to return while having even wider opened arms to others.

    • Алексей

      Monday, August 17, 2020 at 4:06 pm

      Оригинально. Устроить ребрендинг в мировой кризис когда и без этого можно ожидать снижение потока туристов. Тай хочет перехватить пляжных туристов с островных государств? Закрыть направления, где у него нет конкурентов? Имеет уверенность, что турист оплатит все эти мероприятия с пузырями, карантинами, суперстраховками? Пока имеем результат в виде больших сомнений во вменяемости Тайского руководства и предположение, что нормального туризма в этой стране больше не будет.

  11. Rinky Stingpiece

    Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at 3:43 am

    This looks like it will be worse than the AEC in 1997… just defying gravity at the moment, but the economics can’t stay suspended in midair for much longer, economic gravity is bound to kick in… where will the replacement money come from?!

  12. ScubaNicks Nick M Fawcus-Robinson

    Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at 6:48 am

    The headline is causing grief all over the place… Thailand has not agreed this, neither is it law. It is a simple (irresponsible) statement that says… “It is unlikely”… and it is a “Prediction” to say that the ban is de-facto is completely misleading…. NOT GOOD REPORTING ~!!~! CAusing more panic!!~!!

  13. Mike

    Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at 1:40 pm

    True Robert , the mortality rate in motorcycle accidents in Thailand are way higher then the mortality rate by COVID !

  14. KennyX

    Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 7:54 am

    You will kill your own people through economic hardship. You are pure evil. Don’t pretend to care about public health when you can drive on a motorbike woth 4 babies.

  15. KennyZ

    Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 7:34 pm

    You’re going to kill the Thai people through economic hardship and instability! This is pure evil!

  16. Ian Butler

    Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 8:16 pm

    I agree with most of above i have visited this beautiful but corrupt country twice yes its such a shame i have thai girlfriend maybe i get back march but i not plan anything as the thai govermment is a crazy crazy bunch and need i say anymore about a king that is living with 20 women in a 5 star hotel in germany when his country crumbles i hope the people rise up and make this country great again go for it people the western people are behind you

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