Thailand will use the covid-19 pandemic as an opportunity to completely revamp how the tourism sector works and how the country is marketed abroad.
Famed for its backpacker scene and crowds of flag-following Chinese tour groups, Thailand will instead focus on wealthy, prominent spending individuals when tourism finally returns to the country.
The strategy, announced by Tourism Minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, will attempt to make Thailand less reliant on mass tourism and instead seek tourists who will spend more money while visiting the country.
Once Thailand opens its borders again, a “travel bubble” agreement will come into effect with individual countries, allowing selected groups to enter the country without undergoing a 14-day quarantine.
Initially, business executives and medical tourists are expected to travel to Thailand under bilateral agreements. However, the Thai Government is also working on targeting wealthy individuals as part of the arrangements.
Working with the travel industry, the government will invite particular individuals to visit Thailand, where they can enjoy holidays with minimal risks.
Islands, including Phuket, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Phi Phi, are touted as potentials destinations for such tourism. Here, luxury resorts can help wealthy tourists spend more money than Thailand’s traditional tourist market.
The process for allowing such individuals into the country is still under discussion. However, they will likely need to undergo a covid-19 screening before traveling to Thailand and upon arrival.
After arriving, they can choose one of the resort islands and remain there for a minimum amount of time.
At their destination island, visitors could travel freely and enjoy all local facilities.
Mr. Ratchakitprakarn aims to implement the new strategy between November of this year and February of next year. This coincides with the winter months in Europe and the United States when travelers would usually seek out hotter climates. The Tourism Minister said:
“One person can easily spend as much as five by staying at the finest hotels.”
Regarding the “travel bubbles”, Mr. Ratchakitprakarn said that agreements will likely be in place by August with the resumption of tourism aimed for around September.
Countries, including Japan, Australia, and some Chinese cities and provinces, are under consideration for bilateral agreements at the moment.
The Tourism Minister said Thailand aims to accommodate 10 million foreign arrivals before the end of this year. This equates to approximately one-quarter of the total number of entries in 2019.
He reinstated the government’s aim to reinvent the tourism industry by saying:
“If we don’t use this chance to create the most benefit for the industry, Thailand will lose out. This is an opportunity to reset the entire tourism system.”