As Thailand relaxes more restrictions nationwide, allowing a variety of businesses, places, and services to operate again, speculation about when tourists can return to the country has been rife.
There are plans in place to encourage domestic tourism across the country over the coming weeks and with the emergency decree almost certain to finish at the end of this month, hopes were high that international travel could resume on July 1st and bring tourists back to the country.
However, Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha, has dampened any expectations of a quick return to normal tourism by saying that Thailand still has a “long way to go” before international tourism can resume.
The PM has floated the idea of a “travel bubble” to tentatively resume international tourism under strict guidelines and limits.
The plan would use bilateral agreements with other countries to limit any further outbreak of covid-19 and allow only tourists from selected countries to visit Thailand. Prayut said:
“Once the situation improves, we’ll allow travel between countries that we have an agreement with.”
Other countries including South Korea and some regions in China, and, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania have implemented similar schemes which allow people from the chosen regions to travel for tourism.
The hopes that Thailand will open again to tourists in July was also downplayed by the Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Yuthasak Supasorn, who said:
“It is still dependent on the outbreak situation, but I think at the earliest, we may see the return of tourists could be the fourth quarter of this year. We are not going to open all at once.”
The return of international tourists to Thailand is yet to be discussed by the cabinet, but it is sure to be on the agenda this month with the resumption of international flights planned for July 1st.
For now, Thailand will focus on encouraging domestic tourism with travel vouchers, free accommodation, and other incentives planned to encourage people to take trips within the country.