Thailand tourism officials predict best and worst case scenarios for reopening

Stock photo by Bao Menglong for Unsplash

The best-case scenario in Thailand’s reopening… 3 million foreign tourist arrivals this year, Tourism Council of Thailand says. It’s a far cry from the around 40 million welcomed to Thailand in 2019. But with Phuket set to reopening tomorrow under the “Sandbox” travel model, and other areas posed to reopen later this year, tourism officials guess, that in the best case, 3 million tourists could arrive this year.

The worst-case scenario? 1 million tourist arrivals, tourism officials estimate. And that’s if Bangkok remains closed to foreign arrivals and if Chinese tourists can’t take outbound trips.

With Thailand in its most severe wave of Covid-19, tourism confidence hit its lowest point in the second quarter. TCT vice president Vichit Prakobgosol says vaccination campaigns in the pilot tourism areas, expected to reopen this year, should be accelerated.

“In addition to faster vaccination for 10 pilot tourism areas, the key factors that affect the volume of tourists are the readiness of Bangkok, which is the aviation hub of Thailand, and whether the Chinese government will allow tourists to take overseas trips by October.”

In the best-case scenario, if the 10 targeted areas reopen by October, and Chinese tourists can take outbound trips by then, Thailand could welcome 3 million tourists and generate 212 billion baht by the end of the year. The target areas include Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Surat Thani, Chiang Mai, Chon Buri, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Buri Ram and Bangkok.

Vichit predicts that, most likely, there will be 1.4 million foreign arrivals this year generating 107 billion baht, saying that China will probably loosen travel restrictions to prepare for reopening for the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.

If Bangkok remains closed, and if Chinese tourists cannot take outbound trips, then Thailand might only welcome 1 million foreign arrivals, generating 83 billion baht, tourism officials predict. They say the delayed rollout of vaccines in Bangkok could impact the country’s reopening. Bangkok remains the epicentre in the latest wave of infections with tight restrictions imposed to control the spread of the virus.

Thailand’s proposed reopening plan…

July 1 PHUKET SANDBOX MODEL Phuket island and province
July 15 SAMUI PLUS Surat Thani Province: Koh Samui-Koh Phangan-Koh Tao sealed routes
August KRABI EVEN MORE AMAZING Krabi, Koh Phi Phi, Ko Ngai, Ko Railay
August PHANG NGA PROMPT Phang Nga, Khao Lak, Ko Yao
SEPTEMBER THE SEALED APPROACH (Specific areas and routes)
September CHARMING CHIANG MAI Mueang, Mae Rim, Mae Tang and Doi Tao Districts
September CHON BURI: NEO PATTAYA Pattaya City, Bang Lamung District, Sattahip District
September BURI RAM Buri Ram – Mueang District and the Chang Arena
October BANGKOK Bangkok metropolitan area
October HUA HIN Cha-am and Hua Hin
October (OTHER DESTINATIONS) Other locations that have 70% vaccination and are prepared to reopen

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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