There is growing confidence in some circles that the return of tourism to Thailand will be a succesful one, helping to boost the economy. Others are not so confident however and issues are being reported.
TravelDailyNews is reporting that the volume of hotel bookings is rapidly increasing. Booking numbers are now 54% of pre pandemic levels up from 9.74% at the start of August. It’s thought that this will increase further as the New Year approaches with 79% of hotel guest expected to be international tourists by January.
Reports in travel media in the UK suggests that there has been a significant surge in bookings for 2022 in Thailand.
In Thailand the Fiscal Policy Office (FPO) expects 200,000 international visitors by the end of 2021, up from its previous estimate of 180,000. Expected tourist numbers for 2022 are 6 million, increasing to 7 million if China allows its citizens to travel again.
The FPO estimates of 6 million tourists in 2022 may, on the face of it, sound promising, but it is still massively down on the almost 40 million visitors in 2019.
A number of commentators believe that the recovery of tourism in Thailand could take significantly longer than many in Thailand are predicting or hoping.
In the short-term nay prospective tourists will be put of by the fact that bars and other entertainment venues remain, officially, closed in the country until at least 15th January with no guarantee of them opening even at that point.
Others are being put off by the initial requirement to stay in a registered hotel room until a negative Covid-19 test result is received.
Many are seeing holiday plans affected by not being able to transit through Bangkok onto their destination. Instead travellers must stay at least one night in Bangkok for their test, before they are able to travel elsewhere in the country.
There is also uncertainty surrounding if conditions will change at any point, Thailand are not alone in making last minute decisions and changes, but they do not help traveller confidence.
There were a number of reports of issues with the Thailand Pass in the early days of its implementation. Teething problems were to be expected but the processing time has now been changed to 7 working days from the original 3 to 5 days when it was launched.
The paperwork required, including vaccination certificates, negative Covid tests, proof of first night bookings at registered hotels and suitable travel insurance are all seen by some as being too much trouble to contemplate travel. There are of course many people who see this as a small price to pay for being able to travel again.
Another possible stumbling block is the type of tourists that Thailand is trying to attract.
Budget travellers are not on the agenda at the moment and authorities have openly stated that they are looking for higher-value tourists. Reports suggest that each traveller is now spending around 10,000 baht (approx £226 / US$304) more than pre-pandemic, although much of this could be accounted for by the required additional hotel and testing fees.
Backpackers and budget-conscious travellers have always been attracted to Thailand. targetting high-value tourists was a legitimate tactic when Thailand was the only country in the region welcoming tourists, others are now following suit however and competition for those travellers has therefore increased.
Reports are coming out of Thailand that some hotels are taking bookings from foreign travellers without ensuring that they are aware that if they have just arrived in the country they need a package including transport from the airport and Covid testing.
Tourists have been reporting having to rebook packages at the airport to gain entry into the country, without getting discounts from their original bookings or at vastly inflated prices.
It is believed that some hotels allowed visitors to book rooms and obtain PCR testing elsewhere, which is not allowed under Thailand Pass rules.
Sources: Bangkok Post, Travel Daily Media & TravelDailyNews
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