According to reports in a number of Thai media outlets Thailand will remain closed to most tourists until at least the second quarter of 2021.
Thailand has been slowly opening to the first few tourists over the last few weeks through the Special Tourist Visa and Tourist Visa both of which have a number of requirements including testing for Covid-19 and 14-day quarantine on arrival in Thailand.
Many tourism organisations and leaders have been calling for a reduction in quarantine time and even for it to end altogether and the creation of travel bubbles to help prevent further damage to the industry, that in 2019 accounted for 20% of GDP.
Hopes for a quick return to general tourism, with less restrictions and more accessible visa’s have been dashed by the Minister of Sport and Tourism.
“The country will continue opening to businessmen, technical experts, high-level workers and those in the medical field for now. 14-day quarantine will continue for now with many countries still in the grip of the pandemic.”Pipat Ratchakitprakan, Minister for Sports and Tourism via The Thaiger
Reuters are reporting that the Thai Finance Minister, Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, has predicted that tourism would not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024.
Thailand has welcomed 6.7 million foreign visitors so far in 2020, down from 32.5 million in the same period, and had expected to exceed the 40 million visitors who entered the country in 2019.
“If global travel gets better than expected after there is a vaccine, our tourism may come back faster.”Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, Finance Minister via Reuters
Now a pessimistic sounding 8 million visitors has been set as the expected number for 2021. A return to 40 million is not expected until 2024 with the tourism sector taking longer than the rest of the Thai economy to recover, expected by 2022.
The global tourism industry has raised hopes of an increase in general tourism after IATA announced the development of a Covid Passport. It has yet to complete a trial however and it is not clear how widespread it will be accepted.
Thailand has generally performed well in containing the pandemic and have so far recorded just 4,026 cases and 60 deaths.
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