It’s time to re-open Thailand for tourism

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An opinion piece written and presented by Tim Newton, originally posted on thethaiger.com.

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“Just a year ago, you’d book a flight, book a hotel, and probably arrive at a Thai airport and get a visa-on-arrival stamp in your passport. A few hours later you were sitting on a beach sipping colourful drinks out of tall glasses.
The easy to organise and relatively simple trip to Thailand is now an impossibility for most people who still have the time or chance to travel. Covid-19 has changed everything and, with such an economic reliance on tourism, poses a critical threat to Thailand’s chances of short to mid-term recovery.
At this stage it is a mind-numbing challenge to come to Thailand, unless you have very deep pockets, an urgent need, or fall into a smattering of categories currently allowed by the Thai government.
Even if all that applies to you, there is an almost endless number of hoops you will have to jump through to be approved for travel to Thailand right now.
At the moment the Thai government only recognises certain visa types to re-enter the country. But even if you are eligible in theory, there are limited entries of people allowed back into the country.
For example, the holders of Thailand Elite visas have been ‘officially’ able to re-enter the country since the start of August. But in practice, according to a source at Thailand Elite, not more than 50 people have actually successfully returned up to date.
Around the world, the information from Thai embassies is also difficult to pin down. Different officials, in different countries, provide conflicting information about the same visa products.
But the sticking point still seems to be the mandatory 14 day quarantine period at a state approved facility. This includes government approved hotels as well, but these hotel quarantines aren’t cheap. And of course, you’re cooped up in a room with little access to outside activities during that time.
Even the newly launched Special Tourist Visa is very special indeed. Applicants require plenty of cash and have to have the intention coming for at least 90 days.
But when you add the compulsory health insurance, only provided by Thai companies, doing all your bookings through the government’s private travel company Thailand Long Stay, flying on specially chartered flights, etc etc, the costs start to stack up. And you haven’t even bought a beer or had a massage at this stage!
The first attempts to bring in a batch of special tourism visa applicants, reportedly a plane load from Guangzhou, in southern China, has been a complete botch job and clearly will need a lot of refinement before it is taken up by a broader traveller base.
To call this ‘tourism’ is a misnomer. The dribble of high spenders, people prepared to fill out all the paperwork, and pay for the pleasure of coming to Thailand, will do nothing for Thailand’s broader tourism industry. It certainly won’t do much to re-open the 1000s of shuttered hotels. Tens of 1000s of other businesses, connected to the Thai tourism juggernaut, remain in tatters.
Even if you’re a tourist, with the best intentions to visit ‘safe’ Thailand’, officially free of Covid-19, what precisely are you going to do when you get here? If your intention is to head out on an island tour or hit the red light districts, you’re probably going to be disappointed.
There are few tours running right now, the red light districts – at least in Phuket, Samui and Pattaya – are not very ‘red’, and many hotels, again in the popular tourist zones, remain shut. Ok there’s still plenty to do and you’ll probably be able to get some great bargains with eager hotels and taxi drivers. But the ‘Thailand’ you were probably expecting is not currently operating.
Some of the places you’d really like to visit may be inaccessible for now, or not even open.
At some stage, hopefully sooner rather than later, the Thai government will have to re-open its borders and find a way to ‘manage’ the Covid-19 situation rather than remain in a travel bubble of its own making. The longer the government doesn’t re-open to something akin to general tourism, the harder it will be to re-boot the former Thai tourism powerhouse.
You would think with a compulsory wearing of face masks, some diligent respect for social distancing and constant reminders of good hygiene and hand washing, most of the risk factors for Covid-19, can be mitigated. Testing before travel and upon arrival also provides an extra level of defence. There are well established ways to avoid a virus beyond the blunt tool of simply closing borders.”

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From:
Date: October 14, 2020

40 thoughts on “It’s time to re-open Thailand for tourism

  1. Looking at the sum of parts with a probable vaccine rollout international travel will kick start next September 2021. That's a realistic outlook.

  2. Historians will look back completely baffled at all this…two things can be true at once: (a) the virus is real and we should all be smart and safe; and (b) the bulk of the world's governments–and their respective citizenries–have gone bat shit insanely hysterical. Fuck this year.

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  4. Thaanks for the Indo. I travel to every single country in the world for my YouTube and this year I just traveled in Europe but it was ok. Now we have to wait to see what happen during the winter. Stay safe!☀️

  5. your commentary is spot on, all countries should open their boarders, take the necessary testing upon arrival, face masks should be mandatory worldwide, hand washing and social distancing compulsory.
    Come on all governments, let's learn to manage the problem rather than submit to it.

  6. Tourism has been ruined world-wide mate. Nobody in the world who has a dependence on tourism for their living has been unaffected by this virus.
    There have even been noticeable business closures in Cairns (Queensland, Australia) since the halt of the tourist flow.
    Governments have taken a "safety first" attitude, and even if it has effectively made countries relatively safe from serious covid-19 problems, they will have to suffer the consequences of the damage done to their economies.

  7. Listen! The Thai people dont want us there. They are in a race to pick our pockets and toss us the hell out. It is no longer the quaint and historical place it was. The Chinese have lent millions to the Thai construction concerns. More and more condos are going up. But theres nobody to fill them because of the visa restrictions. And if youve read up on it, the Thai government wants you to quarentine for 14 days before going out into the general public.

  8. They're in trouble! Due to 5 booming economic years Thailands Baht is very, very strong. So strong that they are struggling to shift any exports. Added to the tourism fallout, mass unemployment predicted to be 8 million by christmas, the governments risky 1.9 Trillion Baht stimulus package, the possibility of buying 2 submarines from china at 13 Billion Baht each and the need to bail out Thai Airways into the billions (which is a pre covid problem) things aren't looking good. The new/former Thai finance minister quit after 26 days in September. Wake up and smell the Cha Dam Rorn. The Barbados model is working. Test 72 hours before arriving. 4 day lockdown. Free test after lockdown. If no Covid… Welcome to Barbados. 190 cases only. I love Thailand and it's people and I want them to get through this and continue to grow but they need to find a way to open those doors.

  9. Billiant analysis. As most of Thai (at least according to some survey) are not happy to see borders open but nevertheless the government shall find a balance to keep tge Country safe and recover from the fall of revenue due to tourism industry (up to 17% of GDP). Apart from paperworks needed in order to apply for entering the Country, the biggest barrier remain the 14 days mandatory (and not cheap) quarantine

  10. King Bhumibol was set up by CIA during the cold war. The King portraites every corner of the country was CIA propaganda machinery!!

  11. All luxury resorts and hotels across the counrty belong to Thai King mafia family. So I am glad that their business is dead.! Not to mention prostitutions and drugs are also their business as well. Wake up and smell the coffee don't suport Royal Thai king gangsters!!

  12. Why is everybody criticizing Thailand for protecting their people.He should be criticizing his own Country for not doing what Thailand did to stop the spread of the virus. If every Country had done what Thailand did the World would be open now and back to normal.It only takes a month or six weeks of total lockdown to stop the cycle and spread of the virus. Its not rocket science.
    Thailand did everything it had to do to protect its elderly and people. with underlying health problems.To this guy I guess anybody who dies of this virus is just a minor inconvience. What a self entitled asshole. Until the rest of the World does the same as Thailand to control this virus Thailand will remained closed or else open with severe restrictions.

  13. Cambodia is taking all the tourist, and increasing its economy dramatically at this time . Since they allow tourists.cambodia is booming. All the ,hotels,schools, jobs, businesses ..etc ( and money from foreign investment) in Southeast Asia completely collapsed,except for Cambodia ( hundreds thousands of local people lost their livelihoods . And Cambodia took them all , and they are thriving since they are open.

  14. The world shut down over a fairly harmless virus. Thailand is destroying its economy. I am in Pattaya now and it seems every small bar or cafe or restaurant and hotel is up for sale. All I see now are luxury condos being built in every open space imaginable. Why??? Blows my mind. These developers are really optimisitc

  15. The old geezers running the bars and other small businesses see their retirement money disappearing. Plus they are bored sitting at a bar and having no one to watch.

  16. They're killing their tourism industry over a fairly harmless virus. We have had just 13,000 deaths directly attributable to it in the US. People will just travel elsewhere if they don't reopen. Living in a bubble like Bubble Boy is not the solution.

  17. Better safe than sorry you stupid Bald headed Old Fart!

    The Thaiger ~ Gratefully does NOT represent the views of Expats OR Thai citizens. It is just s scrappy online rag that knows little or nothing about how those of us living in Thailand really feel!

  18. Great time to clean up all the trash and plastic on the beaches polution in the sea inland island hidden rubbish mounds pilling up created by tourism something good came out of this virus not for human but for nature!

  19. I wish you were the health advisor.

    I think it's clear these over the top requirements for a tourist visa is the govts way of saying 'you are not welcome here!'

    There is nothing logical to their approach unlike your assessment you've stated on this video.

    Like all govts they would stacked to the ceiling in financial security and therefore having a depleted tourism industry is no big concerns to them. If they weren't sitting rich, they'd be doing alot more alot sooner to reignite tourism.

    I personally believe they will reshape their country to a more communist system following their big brothers China and these travel restrictions will continue indefinitely.

    I have spoken to someone in the tourism sector in bkk and they are under the impression the govt have set October 2021 as their reopening date without covid protocol.

  20. I cannot imagine the huge negative impact COVID19 is having on businesses in Thailand. I hope all will be resolved soon.

  21. Well said Mr.Newton 👍🙏
    I am Thai,working in the hotel. Thai gov has made a terrible decision for closing our country. Now we will go to protest tomorrow 14 Oct 2563

  22. That would mean dooms day for all these dotcom bastards like Facebook google adobe amazon Microsoft they are making money at others misery

  23. I think that after the vaccinations are issued, people will be divided into two types, one who was vaccinated and one who did not agree to be vaccinated.
    After that, all procedures will be easy for only those who have received the vaccine. They will not be placed in quarantine or any restrictions, but those who have not been vaccinated will be subjected to all restrictions.

  24. Go broke I could care less this whole con vid is a con game Go borrow money from the world banks Thailand your going to need it .

  25. I love Thailand but think it will be about 2_5 years before things might be as they were and it will put Thailand back about 30 years so you'll get good Baht for your money.

  26. You got all kinds of horrible ways to die over there, dengue, coming off your motorbike, mafia killings etc etc… since when has the Thai public been so fearful of dying? They used to just take it their side as far as I could tell, who gives a crap about flu that kills less than 1% of the people it infects and of that 1% they were gonna die early anyway from their "complications", now you got all kinds of healthy people who cant make a living and if the economy enters a deep depression we're all really effed!!! Why are people not panicking about the debasement of the dollar, downed trade lines, starvation and the effects of complete economic collapse?? Weird

  27. Maybe Thailand can allow people who have fully recovered from Covid19 into the country. Covid19 antibody and virus tests could be conducted upon arrival at the airport, to confirm that these people already have recovered from Covid19. Airlines/Embassies could also require a doctor's letter certifying that the prospective tourist already has Covid19 antibodies and no virus (two different tests), before issuing a ticket/visa. Many prospective tourists from Wuhan, Northern Italy, Spain, Russia, Iran, India, Sweden, South Florida, Los Angeles, and New York City already have Covid19 antibodies and should pose no threat to Thailand. Many health care professionals worldwide already have Covid19 antibodies, and deserve/need a vacation in a tropical "paradise". Let health care professionals in. They deserve it. Perhaps Thailand should invite USA
    and Brazil Presidents, and the UK Prime Minister as special guests at 5-star golf/beach resorts. At least 37 million people, probably more, now have Covid19 antibodies and should be allowed to travel freely, IMO. The number of Covid19 risk-free individuals increases daily, and they should be allowed to travel, I think.

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