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83% drop in foreign tourists expected by the end of 2020

Caitlin Ashworth



PHOTO: Unsplash: Joy Presbitero

Travel restrictions brought on by the Thai government, as a response to the coronavirus pandemic, have contributed to a drastic decline in number of foreign tourists with an expected drop of 83% from last year’s count of 39.8 million foreign tourists to this year’s predicted total of 6.74 million foreign tourists, according to President of the Tourism Council of Thailand Chairat Trirattanajarasporn.

The country’s borders are slowly opening back up, very slowly, with hopes that international tourists will help revive Thailand’s crippled tourism-dependent economy. Only 50,000 foreign tourists are expected for the fourth quarter of 2020. That’s a 99.5% drop from the year prior.

“Foreign tourist receipts for the quarter are down 99% with 4.5 billion baht in expenditures.”

Next year could be better, but the future is still unclear. Tourism officials have predicted 20 million foreign tourists will visit Thailand 2021, but Chairat says it’s still hard to know what next year will be like.

“If there is no vaccine and we still have a 14 day quarantine, I expect only hundreds of thousands of tourists next year.”

Thailand introduced the Special Tourist Visa to allow people to visit the country on a 90 stay that can be renewed twice, adding up to about 9 months. The move is expected to help revive the tourism industry, especially in areas that have heavily relied on international tourists like Phuket.

But only a limited number of people will be entering the country at a time on the Special Tourist Visa. The first group, around 120 to 150 tourists, will fly from China to Phuket next week. They are required to quarantine for 14 days at a certified facility.

The government might drop the 14 day quarantine in the next couple months for tourists from countries classified as low risk for spreading Covid-19. President of the Association of Thai Travel Agents Vichit Prakobogsol says the industry will pitch the idea to the government with hopes that the tourists can travel to Thailand without a quarantine by December.

SOURCE: Reuters

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  1. Avatar


    Thursday, October 1, 2020 at 10:45 am

    I fully agree, a 14 day quarantine for all of 2021 will result in only hundreds of thousands, not millions. However it doesn’t need to be so. Use Barbados as an example. They have fully opened since July 1 and have a total count in that time frame of less than two hundred cases. They only have 5 current cases period.They used a four tier program. People from countries rated very low and have not visited counties recently rated high risk have no testing at all. Those from countries rated low only need a pre flight test. Those listed mid level only pre test, monitor for 7 days and test again at day 5. No quarantine. Those rated high level (including America and Britain) pre test, need to quarantine for 7 days either at a government facility at no cost, or an approved hotel at the guest cost, and test again at day 5. After the 7 day they are free to go without another test. You do need insurance which covers Covid, but no special visa or charter flights. Yes on masks and social distancing, no on beach restrictions.

  2. Avatar

    Richard Renwick

    Thursday, October 1, 2020 at 11:32 am

    It’s not that hard to predict? Between 0% and 2% of tourist’s from last year won’t be far off the mark.

  3. Avatar


    Thursday, October 1, 2020 at 1:54 pm

    All “measures” were totally useless for Covid, but they ruined economy long term. UK or France are no better, by the way. Still insisting on hard approach, although they witnessed a catastrophal failure. On the other hand, Sweden is almost corona free, with no lockdowns and no masks

  4. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Thursday, October 1, 2020 at 2:26 pm

    Visitors will still arrive. The ones who have property or businesses.
    They will arrive to sell up and get out. Any trust the Thais had from foreigners is fast becoming lost.
    The Thais have revealed their true face, and it does not wear the Thai smile.
    Why? Well just one example: Thai Airways owe one billion US dollars in unpaid passenger refunds.

  5. Avatar


    Thursday, October 1, 2020 at 5:49 pm

    I won’t go to a country for holiday which has that kind of restrictions. Easy as it is.
    Spending in average 10.000 – 15.000 USD in 14 days for a holiday. For some it might be much. For some it might be not much. Just say it. And there are many other beautiful places on earth where I could blast out that money :).

  6. Avatar


    Thursday, October 1, 2020 at 7:08 pm

    Cannot be 50000 people by the end of this year if government allows only 1000 people a month.

  7. Avatar

    Mel Burn

    Thursday, October 1, 2020 at 11:55 pm

    And why did they push out people who were already in Thailand?

  8. Avatar

    Sylvia severi

    Friday, October 2, 2020 at 9:43 pm

    When are they going to allow those with retirement visa who have lived , own property, have private health insurance and contribute enormously to the Thai economy come back ? You allow now elite visitors but not those who live in Thailand to return .. this makes no sense whatsoever. I can guarantee many of those retirees who have invested in expensive property will as soon as possible divest themselves and move elsewhere. This is going to be a huge loss for Thailand as many expats had chosen Thailand for their retirement.

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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