ThailandTourism

Tourism industry aims for improvement over Sandbox for reopening

PHOTO: Thailand is ready to reopen the tourism industry on November 1. (o-k-a Unsplash)

Thailand’s battered tourism industry is making final preparations for the big November 1 reopening with high hopes of welcoming back international travellers across Thailand. On November 1, the country will reopen with still somewhat convoluted 3 entry options and quarantine-free travel for arrivals from 46 low-risk countries.

The Phuket Sandbox, with nearly 58,000 arrivals from July 1, has been viewed as both a success and a failure by observers. The Samui Plus reopening was clearly far less successful with 1,825 arrivals into Koh Samui and a paltry 134 and 54 international arrivals into Koh Phangan and Koh Tao respectively since July 15.

Now the tourism industry is hoping that bumps in the road have been smoothed out and Thailand can overcome the Covid-19 hurdles and restart the tourist economy. They hope major gateways like Bangkok will see a significant financial boom with minimal health and safety issues. The capital city is now 70% vaccinated and hoping to avoid a Covid-19 outbreak.

Minister of Tourism and Sports Pipat Ratchakitprakan says Bangkok is ready to restart the tourism industry that had seen it as the most visited city in the world for 4 of the last 6 years. He also oddly mentioned Krabi and Phang Nga are also prepared for reopening, despite already launching a reopening at the beginning of the month.

The Minister also suggested that provinces like Chiang Mai that are set to reopen but are seeing surging Covid-19 numbers should consider whether or not to reopen the tourism industry, with a decision being made by the province’s governor.

Planning ahead for the possibility of Covid-19 outbreaks, the Ministry of Public Health ensures that provinces will be supplied with medical equipment, staff, and beds, though the Tourism Minister points out that the Phuket Sandbox showed that transmission from Thais to tourists was not common.

Thailand has seen just under 86,000 international travellers this year, generating 2.25 billion baht, and the tourism industry is aiming for 300,000 visitors next month and another 700,000 in December. The Ministry of Tourism and Sports and Ministry of Foreign Affairs are predicting 10 to 15 million tourists in 2022 plus 160 million domestic trips generating 1.5 trillion baht in revenue.

They are still setting their sights narrowly on wealthy tourists, pointing out that Phuket Sandbox travellers spent 60,000 baht each, 15,000 more than pre-Covid travel, though they don’t seem to take into account the increased cost of mandatory testing and other Covid-19 costs.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.