Which country in the world is the most confident to re-open its borders for tourism?

You’ll be surprised by the answer. Cooped up in our offices and homes, we’re all yearning to travel again. Whilst the suitcase is gathering dust, travellers around the world are wondering when and how they’re going to be able to return to their favourite holiday destinations. A comprehensive international survey has come up with some surprising results about the confidence of countries to reopen their borders to tourists.

New findings from a global study suggests that 4 out of 5 Thais are “confident that Thailand is well-prepared to reopen its tourism and leisure activities”, the highest support for a re-opening globally. The result from the ‘Blackbox Research’ survey flies in the face of the vibe on the street where foreigners think Thais want to keep the border walls up for as long as possible.

The study also found that tourists from Hong Kong, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, and India are all want to come to Thailand as their first port of call when their country’s borders reopen.

Social research agency Blackbox Research, data provider Dynata, and language partner Language Connect produced the Unravel Travel: Fear & Possibilities in a Post Coronavirus (Covid-19) World survey. It examines the sentiments, preferences, and expectations of 10,195 people across 17 countries. The research aims to engage people in 17 countries about their opinions on travel in a post-Covid world.

The survey reports that foreign tourist dollars contribute around 11% directly to the national economy (indirectly the percentage is up to 20%). The vast majority (93%) of Thais recognise the importance of the tourism sector is to the local economy. 22% of Thais agree that there is an urgent need for tourism boards, including their own, to promote tourism for economic reasons – the highest globally.

Saurabh Sardana, COO of Blackbox Research, says that both regional interest and citizen sentiment towards restarting local tourism have been encouraging, especially given the country’s phased approach in reopening to business and medical tourists. Mr Sardana notes that establishing traveller’s trust in health and safety protocols is key, and that Thailand needs to capitalise on its success in containing the Covid-19 outbreak.

“It is evident from our findings the immense value tourism contributes to Thailand’s economy. As Thailand progressively opens its borders to international visitors, its immediate priority will be to regain traveller confidence, through reinforcing how Thailand has in place strict health and safety measures, keeping everyone safe.”

“In turn, businesses and the Tourism Authority of Thailand need to work collaboratively and ensure full compliance with these measures, and effectively communicate their efforts through the right channels. Only through stringent health protocols and regular public communication can the tourism industry successfully revitalise itself.”

“With Thailand’s currently low rate of coronavirus infections, and its strong public health system which played a key role in its tackling of the pandemic, the country is well placed to be recognised on the regional and global stage as a trusted destination.”

Amongst south east Asian countries, Thailand has the strongest domestic appeal. 91% of Thais are keen to support local travel attractions in the next 12 months – a positive sign given Thailand’s recent investment of 22.4 billion baht (around US$720 million) to stimulate its domestic tourism, of which partial financial aid will be provided to local tourists for selected hotels and restaurants throughout the country.

“Our study has found that price is not necessarily the highest priority for their next trip – this applies to all the key areas such as transport (18%), accommodation (15%), and attraction (10%). Instead, visitor safety measures overwhelmingly ranked top of the list for most Thai travellers (transport – 43%; accommodation – 46%; attraction – 53%).”

“To complement these stimulus measures, both the government and tourism operators need to work together to ensure safety and cleanliness protocols are met at all times, giving travellers a sense of security as domestic tourism demand begins to kick in. Establishing confidence amongst locals will also help tell the story of trust to a wider international audience.”

Commenting on the significance of the study’s findings, Mr Sardana said, “What the study has shown us is that the pandemic has unequivocally shifted how we see travel. In order for travel industry players to stay relevant, they need to change the way they approach every aspect and touchpoint in the traveller experience, emphasising safety and rebuilding trust.”

  • Overall, international leisure travel in the short term is off the schedule for most people, with 44% of respondents still keen to avoid international vacations.
  • Notably, Japanese (32%), Filipinos (42%), New Zealanders (43%) and Australians (52%) are least eager to take long-haul trips.
  • Australia and Japan emerged as the two most popular destinations for Asian travellers, while Spain is on the top of the list of European travellers given their June Covid-19 cases saw a downward trend.
  • The countries whose tourism appeal took the biggest hit during the pandemic are China, Italy, and the US.
  • Globally, 80% are willing to pay more for safer accommodation, and 74% are open to paying a higher premium for travel insurance in exchange for protection against pandemics.
  • 76% of respondents indicated that their preferred travel destinations will be countries that offer more contactless experiences.
  • An overwhelming 66% prefer to travel in their own vehicles for road trips between cities or countries, compared to travelling on a plane (18%), rented or private-hire car or taxi (9%), and buses and trains (7%).
  • In terms of what the future of travel looks like, the study found that e-boarding passes (44%), touchless lavatories (43%), contactless journeys from airports to hotels (40%), no more middle seats in transportation (36%), and digital health passports (35%) are some of the new ideas which global travellers hope to see implemented in the near future.

About the Survey  

Blackbox Research and Dynata carried out an online nationally representative survey of n=10,195 across 17 countries, aged between 25 to 65. Stratified random sampling was applied across key demographic and geographic variables to ensure representative coverage. The survey was conducted in June 2020.  

About Blackbox Research

Blackbox Research is the “go-to” research agency for our local, regional and global clients, with a strong reputation for revealing insights on current issues affecting communities across the globe. We specialise in data contents, delivered through our research expertise and affiliated data+ communications services for business, governments and NGOs in various countries around the world. We embrace cross-disciplinary research methods, digital tools, techniques and applications to answer our clients’ changing needs and demands. For more information, please visit us at www.blackbox.com.sg

 About Dynata  

Dynata is one of the world’s leading providers of first party data contributed by consumers and business professionals. With a reach that encompasses 60+ million people globally and an extensive library of individual profile attributes collected through surveys, Dynata is the cornerstone for precise, trustworthy quality data. The company has built innovative data services and solutions around its core first party data offering to bring the voice of the people to the entire marketing spectrum in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia Pacific. For more information, visit us at www.dynata.com 

About Language Connect 

For 17 years, Language Connect has provided expert translation services to businesses around the world, and since 2018 has been part of tech and retail giant, The Hut Group. We partner with companies from a wide range of industries, from Legal Services to Healthcare to Retail to Ecommerce, and Market Research, supporting businesses on their international ambitions through expert translation services. 

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View Comments

  • Chinese people can’t travel at the moments that includes people from Hong Kong you can only draw out limited monies at present air tickets are a problem Australia you can’t fly out very expensive there is limited amount of tourists in 2021, not to mention the quarantine price tourism next year in Thailand will be limited because you have been so successful in stopping the virus the Baht has stayed strong the government needs to set up a plan to open up tourism again maybe Phuket might be the answer but it must make tourism financially viable

  • "......because you have been so successful in stopping the virus...."

    Can I stop laughing now, you really believe the published figures regarding the number of deaths and cases in Thailand due to the virus are true?

    p.s. Santa Clause and the tooth fairy do not really exist either, sorry.

  • Western tourists are not going to pay to go on a quarantine holiday in a country that is engulfed by protests. It's not just about opinions and feelings, their insurance may be invalidated by visiting a country like that. Be more realistic.

    • Thailand is going to have to start again with tourism. The problem predates the pandemic, and tourism was already in decline.

      People come to Thailand for similar reasons to why they go to Spain.
      Fun, food, culture, beaches.

      Thailand is not a luxury destination, it's a mass market destination. It's a taste of luxury and exotica on a budget.

      People expect it to be cheap and good value, and that's why they come in large numbers from far and wide.

      Places like Phuket and Samui got greedy and pushed up prices and exploitation and scamming, and occasional unresolved or unsatisfactorially-resolved crimes against tourists have happened, and accidents leading to loss of life due to poor standards.

      The pandemic has simply accelerated the decline into a sudden collapse.
      Tourists have to be coaxed back with the sort of cheap prices that made them start coming in larger numbers 20 years ago following the 97 crisis. You can't just assume that people are going to hurry back, especially with the potential high costs and bureaucratic stress of being stuck in Thailand.

      Furthermore, they can't go to destinations where they have to quarantine when they return.
      Thailand needs to do something about getting it's figures trusted and getting itself on the quarantine exemption lists of countries it wants tourists from.
      And it needs simple and affordable solutions for repatriation to convince tourists that it's low financial and insurance risk to travel there.

      Whoever is generating these various tourist quarantine schemes does not appear to be seeing things through the eyes of the tourists they hope to attract. European tourists have other simpler options, like Greece, Spain and Portugal. Australians, Japanese, and Americans don't really need to travel outside their countries to have a holiday.
      All of these potential tourists are most likely to consider Thailand if it is cheap, and simple, low stress as a holiday.
      It's probably best to just open up islands with airports to direct international flights with no quarantine to try and get tourism restarted.

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