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Thailand to remain closed into 2021

Maya Bay, Thailand, before the pandemic. The country is unlikely to reopen to tourists this year (picture courtesy Shutterstock).

International visitors will be banned from entering Thailand until 2021, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, deputy governor for international marketing at TAT, revealed this week that there has been no dialogue about reopening the country to inbound or outbound leisure travel during TAT’s weekly pandemic meetings.

He added that he does not expect Thailand to reopen to international tourists until 2021.

Ayudhya, speaking at an industry webinar meeting this week, said he saw no signal from the Thai government that the country will reopen in 2020.

“That’s putting a lot of pressure on the tourism industry,” he said. “The Christmas period, usually the high season, is in jeopardy and I’m looking horribly even to Chinese New Year in February, which is an iffy proposition at best now. Unfortunately, this is not a rosy picture.”

Thailand has expanded the list of those allowed to enter the country under strict measures, and is taking a ‘wait-and-see’ approach as to how this expansion pans out. Along with diplomats, United Nations officials and business people and investors who have an agreement with the government, film crews and exhibition personnel are now permitted entry.

However, the list is only applicable to arrivals from Japan, South Korea, Singapore, China and Hong Kong and all visitors must complete 14 days of quarantine.

Meanwhile, tourism operators are proposing a new reopening plan called Safe and Sealed, according to the Bangkok Post.

Under the proposal, tourist groups (rather than independent travellers) from cities with zero infections for at least a 30-day period, will be able to stay in designated hotels and provinces. Safety requirements will include a negative coronavirus test 72 hours before flying, sufficient insurance and swab tests. It’s hoped that the plan would attract 500,000 tourists and around 50 billion baht in revenue.

The Thai tourism sector employed four million workers before the pandemic. It’s expected that tourism-related unemployment could rise to 2.5 million.


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