Thailand Unlikely to Welcome International Tourists in 2020

As other world nations begin reopening to tourism and consequently grappling with second waves of COVID-19 infection, Thailand is in no rush to welcome back foreign visitors, despite the devastation to its economy.

In fact, it’s looking like the Southeast Asian destination has no intention of opening its borders to international leisure travelers until 2021, according to information shared with The Telegraph. The country is authorizing entry only for select diplomats and businesspeople, which will remain the case for the foreseeable future.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s (TAT) Deputy Governor, Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, said during a virtual seminar on August 5 that there’s been “no discussion” among Thai officials about immediately reopening the country to global tourism.

Chattan said, “I see no signal from the government that Thailand will reopen this year,” Vice World News reported. “The government, understandably, is taking a ‘wait-and-see’ attitude,” he explained.

He foresees that, “The Christmas period, usually a high-season, is now in jeopardy, and I’m even looking all the way to Chinese New Year in February, which is an iffy proposition at best now.”

The Thai government has done well in terms of prioritizing its population’s health, even being praised by the World Health Organization (WHO) for its handling of the COVID-19 crisis.

Since the start of the pandemic, Thailand’s population of 69.4 million has seen a total of 3,351 cases and 58 deaths, and the country has now gone 78 days without a single case reported, Cosmopolitan UK revealed.

But, Chattan said the people themselves are wary of reopening too soon and possibly jeopardizing the health of their communities. “There’s still a lot of nervousness,” he said. “We’re taking a very, very cautious approach.”

David Johnson of Bangkok-based travel PR firm Delivering Asia told The Telegraph, “Thai people realize that, should the country open too quickly,… it would set the tourism industry back much further, likely well into next year. So, whereas financial priorities are high, a lot of Thais in mid- and low-income employment are putting health first, returning to their families, finding other ways of eking out a living and sitting this out.”

While there had recently been talk of forming travel bubbles with neighboring Southeast Asian nations, Chattan said that such discussions have been suspended in view of the rising rate of new cases in countries like Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines—places where the pandemic was previously thought to have been well-contained.

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