Thailand has ended quarantine for visitors from more 60 countries. This is the largest reopening gamble Asia has seen and could be a turning point in the revival of mass tourism after the pandemic.
After being tested negative for Covid-19 at their arrival, travelers from the US, China and Singapore will be allowed to travel freely around Thailand’s beaches, temples, and islands. Visitors from non-listed countries can travel to Bangkok or 16 other areas, but they will only be allowed to stay in their original destination for seven days.
This is the largest step Thailand has taken in welcoming back some of the 40-million tourists it hosted last year. It is also billed as a fight to win foreign tourists, as Covid-19 restrictions are being relaxed by countries from Australia to the UK. The Thai success story could be a model for other countries that are concerned about a possible virus resurgence.
John Blanco, General Manager at Capella Bangkok, stated that while we don’t expect the rooms to fill overnight, it is a good start. “All countries are adopting the same position, that is, it’s time to learn to live with Covid. It is a common theme all over the globe.
After easing travel restrictions, hotels in the US, Mexico, and Turkey reported higher occupancy. However, the rush for Thailand may not be as strong due to its low Covid-19 resilience ranking. This is especially true for tourists who still need to quarantine when they return home.
Although Thailand failed in previous attempts to reopen the country due to a viral flare-up and slow progress in vaccinations, the so-called Phuket Sandbox has been a success. It allowed vaccinated tourists to travel to other parts after a short stay on the island. Since July, the country has seen almost 60,000 tourists.
The Thai reopening is being planned by the travel industry. The number of international airlines flying to the Southeast Asian country has increased. Hotels and resorts offer discounts and the island hosts a New Year’s Eve party with Andrea Bocelli, an Italian opera singer.
Bangkok authorities lifted a ban on alcohol sales in restaurants that had been in place for six months starting Monday. They also relaxed other Covid-19 containment measures in an effort to attract tourists to Bangkok, the gateway to Thailand.
The worst performance since 1998’s Asian financial crisis, Thailand’s economy contracted 6.1% in 2020.
However, there are concerns that the wider reopening of the border could lead to an increase in the Covid-19 epidemic. Thailand is currently reporting approximately 8,000 new infections per day. A recent survey revealed that more than 90% of respondents had concerns about the move.
It’s not too late to bring back tourists for Thailand’s already-stricken economy and the millions of people who rely on tourism for their livelihood.