Airports of Thailand president says tourism won’t pick back up until October

Stock photo via Aleksei Zaitcev for Unsplash

While Phuket’s “Sandbox” travel scheme is poised to reopen the island to foreign tourists on July 1, Airports of Thailand doesn’t expect arrivals to really pick up until October, which is the start of Thailand’s “high season” for tourism.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand expects 600,000 tourists to arrive between July and September, but AoT president Nitinai Sirismatthakarn says the “Sandbox” scheme might not attract as many tourists as officials expect, adding that the island will be in its “low season” for tourism during the rainy months.

Under the Phuket Sandbox travel programme, tourists who are vaccinated against Covid-19, and are travelling from countries classified by Thailand’s Public Health Department as low to medium risk of Covid-19, can enter the island province.

Flights to Thailand will increase next month, but not by much when compared to the pre-pandemic traffic, Nitinai says. Next month, 18 international flights are expected to land in Thailand each day. Before the pandemic, 380 international flights would land in Thailand each day. The aviation industry in Thailand is expected to take up to 2 years to recover from the pandemic.

While Nitinai says AoT has prepared for the Phuket reopening, other businesses in the tourism sector are not as prepared such as Thai Airways International is undergoing debt restructuring. Many tourism businesses have closed down during the pandemic.

Air travel connectivity needs to be restored at a global level for the overall situation to improve, International Air Transport Association director-general Willie Walsh says, adding that any of the world’s largest air travel markets are closed to international tourism including Australia, China and Japan.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Tanutam Thawan

Local Thai journalist speaking fluent Thai and English. Tanutam studied in Khon Kaen before attending Bangkok’s Chulalongkhorn University.

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