Thailand in 2021

By | Category: Travel destinations

Just before Christmas it was announced that Thailand created a campaign called “Welcome Back to Thailand Again.”

thailand island
Thailand wan ts us to visit later this year provided we have had the two vaccinations.

The purpose is obviously to get tourism up and running again but the country is only reckoning that starting again in the third quarter of this year. That suggests it seems little before September.

It seems to be largely – but not solely – on the vaccination programmes being rolled out by countries across the world. Entry into Thailand will require visitors to present proof of COVID-19 vaccinations (both doses) plus any other visa requirements. By having vaccinations, incoming tourists will not need to quarantine so it looks as though quarantine will remain in place as an alternative or in case people are unable to obtain vaccinations in time for their travel dates.

Despite the vaccination roll-out, the country announced last week that it was looking to attract just five million international visitors this year. Late last year the estimate was for about ten million. Both figures are well down on the 39 million that travelled to Thailand in 2019.

Later in the week, a fly in the ointment appeared when the head of the Department of Disease Control said that as there is still no conclusive evidence that vaccinated people do not transmit the virus, quarantine rules would remain in place. he went on to say that there was insufficient evidence to say how long the vaccinations will last and how many repeat shots might be needed.

The main sources of visitors to Thailand are China, India and Malaysia – the UK supplies about a million arrivals or just under 2.5% of all visitors – and those are likely to be the first to return.

Long haul  arrivals from Europe, North America and even Australasia might take a little longer to return, hence the reason for the reduced estimate in the number of arrivals.

The Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) has surveyed 785 operators in tourism-related business and 1,444 Thais from November 11 to December 10. 60% of surveyed locals and 50% of tourism operators agree with the idea to reopen the borders as long as a fourteen day quarantine is still required.

Over winter – the main tourist season – fewer than 400 passengers per month have been arriving use the newly introduced tourist visas which were designed to boost numbers.

Lockdowns and quarantine rules depressed numbers as more and more countries implemented quarantine restrictions on returning travellers.

When it comes to lifting the quarantine for travellers from low risk countries, half of the tour operators and 39% of locals agree that that should be the way.

But the definition of a low risk country will be influenced by how many people in that country have been vaccinated. Will the Thai government then agree travel bubbles?

Only time will tell.

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