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International tourists ‘essential’ to Thai economy, PM says




“If nothing is done, things will get worse. Premises will be shut down. Employees will be laid off. How can the government afford to help them all?”

Thailand needs tourists to pick its economy back up, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha says, adding that a system needs to be put in place that would both prevent the spread of the coronavirus and also allow international tourists to enter Thailand again.

While there have been many concerns about allowing international tourists into the country, Thailand’s economy is dependent on tourism. Prayut says opening up the country to international travellers is “essential.”

“If nothing is done, things will get worse. Premises will be shut down. Employees will be laid off. How can the government afford to help them all?”

Of course not everything will happen all at once, and visiting Thailand won’t necessarily be easy. Opening borders could bring on a potential second wave of the coronavirus. Prayut says only a limited number of tourists will be allowed to enter at first to test out the country’s coronavirus control measures, making sure there are no virus transmissions. He says the tourists will be monitored and if Covid-19 is detected, they will be able to contain it.

“There will be forms to fill in. Flights must be traceable. When they reach their destinations their whereabouts will have to be confirmed and they will be isolated from others.”

The prime minister says he hopes the public welcome the foreigners into the country because locals will directly benefit from the business tourists will bring. However, some locals have not been welcoming to foreigners that have been in Thailand throughout the pandemic. Posts on Facebook have reported bans on foreigners. Earlier this month, Bangkok Midnight Marathon banned foreigners from signing up for a race, but then apologised and removed the ban. They said the ban was aimed to minimise the spread of the coronavirus.

“Not allowing foreign nationals was a step to ensure that people with a travel history do not mix with the ones who didn’t travel. We didn’t take into account that there are many expats who would want to join the race and have fun with the locals.”

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Facebook



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  1. Mike Frenchie

    Wednesday, August 26, 2020 at 4:38 pm

    Someone told him that 2 trillion thb were depending on it directly and another 1 to 1.5 trillion indirectly?
    Too late for this season, the scheme they have in mind is only OK for the returnees… (A drop in the bucket).

    When you can travel freely to the Maldives, Turkey and soon the Philippines, why locking you down in Phuket? Senseless…

  2. Perceville Smithers

    Wednesday, August 26, 2020 at 4:38 pm

    If the public does not want to welcome foreigners, they will take their tourist dollars to another place.

  3. Pedro

    Wednesday, August 26, 2020 at 5:07 pm

    If the PM wants International tourists, how come I feel distinctly unwelcome to return with all the restrictions his Government will place on me as to where I can go and where I must stay? Foreign tourists will not want all the form filling and constant monitoring of their location as it is very ‘Big Brother’. They will go somewhere more welcoming. The Thai economy will go to the dogs.

    • Albert

      Thursday, August 27, 2020 at 4:05 am

      So far no one talking about the People which still outside Thailand for Month’s, apart from there Families. Those can not enter Thailand because Wife and/or Kids not Thai Citizen. Most of them live in Thailand already for years, spend huge amount of Money, support Economy, some both Condos.

  4. Dirty Farang

    Wednesday, August 26, 2020 at 6:15 pm

    I guess Mr. Prayut is the only one in the government who understands what tourism and expats means to the country. If the other cabinet members keep bashing on tourists and expats (aka “dirty farang”), the thai society can say good bye to the reached social welfare soon as we will burn our tourist dollars in their neighbourhood.

  5. Bobby m

    Wednesday, August 26, 2020 at 7:50 pm

    Finally, some green shoots from the government.

    But listen government leaders and listen good. If you want tourists to come, you must not make it too difficult. If you do. They just will not come. you cannot expect them to isolate. The clue is in the word (Tour)ists.

    Limiting numbers will only drive up prices, so no, or they will just go to your competitors, where they feel more welcome and it’s less expensive.

    The more hoops and form filling you create for people to jump through or complete, the less chance you have of people and money, coming.

    Expensive tests no, they are mostly pointless anyway.

    Temperature checks yes

    Track and trace yes.

    Local control yes

    Face coverings yes

    Reporting of any symptoms yes

    Insurance to cover medical expenses against Covid YES (a must).

    Yes it is a risk and some people will get sick, it’s a flu virus. Most will get well too and with your record of recovery tourists will not be scared to come to you.

    Yes there will be costs to the government, but they will be far less than the tourism will bring in.

    I hope really hope you do this right and get Thailand back on its feet. You only have to look at the news to see for one. The crime rate is going through the roof as desperate people try to get money from whatever it takes.

    Act quickly.

  6. murika

    Wednesday, August 26, 2020 at 8:58 pm

    so only one month after saying that they can totally survice on domestic tourism and that new thailand will now stop being dependant on foreign money, they already go back to begging the tourist to come back…

  7. Ryan Lih

    Wednesday, August 26, 2020 at 9:17 pm

    Covid test is essential for every tourist hence much be done. Have a controlled quota of Asean countries visitors into Thailand via flight and road (Malaysia & Singapore residents) at dedicated entry points. Have them take covid test and shack them in designated quarantine hotels until test results are out (2 days max), then send them off to their intended destinations. This way, local hotels will have occupancy, surrounding food businesses will have deliveries for these 2 days quarantined visitors while waiting for test results. In this way, visitors won’t feel the pinch and they can see the efficiency of the Thai health authorities. Of course, it’s easier said than done. But hey, Thailand was awarded the most successful country in controlling covid19. Furthermore, each local businesses must be vigilant in contact tracing, wearing masks, and sanitizers. Aseans are accustomed to it. So let’s do it for S. Koreans, Japanese, and surrounding countries yeah.

  8. Ian

    Wednesday, August 26, 2020 at 10:39 pm

    This is simple go to countries that want you! Clearly Thailand doesn’t want tourists from the west. They only want chinese or Russian this is very clear from the last time I went and every menu and shop signs were in Thai, Chinese and Russian it says it all…
    The airport is closed to people from the UK but 1.1 million Chinese have visited Thailand! The country that started the whole thing. An absolute joke of a corrupt government

  9. Nipral

    Thursday, August 27, 2020 at 2:28 am

    Very simple Mr PM : either you open with little or no restriction
    for next Xmas/New Year or you die.
    Keep in mind that you have to disclose your plans NOW as international tourists
    are booking NOW. Got it ?
    We have a wealth of alternatives to choose from. Thailand is not unique.

  10. Remo

    Thursday, August 27, 2020 at 2:39 am

    Negative covid test taken up to 72 hours before boarding the flight, and another test on arrival. Then people are asked to self isolate for up to 24 hours, till the negative result is received.

    This is what most touristic countries , like Dubai, Seychelles, Maldives, Caribian nations, Zanzibar, etc do now.

    It is safe and lets the tourism industry run.

    Thailand should follow this procedure too.

  11. Ritu

    Thursday, August 27, 2020 at 4:24 am

    Please let Nordic countries (excluding Sweden) in, we have very few cases in Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Estonia. Sweden can wait until next spring

  12. SPAIN

    Thursday, August 27, 2020 at 6:14 am


  13. simon

    Thursday, August 27, 2020 at 7:49 am



    In the eyes of Thai, two very different groups of people. Thailand is the only country that sees people in this way – it’s truly pathetic.

  14. EdwardV

    Thursday, August 27, 2020 at 8:31 am

    It’s finally dawning the domestic tourist scheme was a failure. The millions of unemployed need jobs, they need paychecks. Foreign tourists want to come back to Thailand but they won’t if it’s too expensive or burdensome. It’s just too easy to go somewhere else. Yes test, track and trace. The tourists are willing to put up with some extra expense and burden, after all they want it safe too. Quarantines need to be kept to a minimum. A few days is ok, once you go past that you drive down the numbers. We all want a safe and prosperous Thailand.

  15. Ray W.

    Thursday, August 27, 2020 at 2:36 pm

    “We didn’t take into account” should be our moto for this whole COVID catastrophe, not the virus mind you, the draconian, irrational fear based, fact-less response. By June you could tell the virus mortality models were insanely off projections. Anyone with a functional frontal cortex should have moved to open the boarders and stem the economic hemorrhaging. We are going to lose more lives in scores to the economic damage this has done. Open the boarders, make it easy on the tourists, and maybe we will be back at 2019 income and unemployment numbers by 2026… maybe.

  16. LJ

    Friday, August 28, 2020 at 4:22 pm

    Its sad. One day they will realize that its better to get covid-19 than die of hunger. It will take years before covid-19 is completely gone (if ever). Big question is when is the right time to open up the country without all the “paper work”. Facemask, social distancing, washing hands should be of highest priority.

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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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