Tourism in Thailand resumes with greater hope of recovery

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Thai Hotel
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Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, luxury hotels opening in Thailand are pinning their hopes on a government plan to draw high-spending visitors, believing that those seeking a five-star quarantine would help cushion the travel industry’s destruction.

About half a dozen of those luxury hotels that open or will soon open in Bangkok during the outbreak are aimed at attracting long-term travelers, high-cost travelers and medical travelers. They are hoping that tourism will get back soon to the path of growth. To overcome the recession they are concentrating more on people who can stay longer and could spend more.

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According to the experts, “The pandemic has allowed Thailand to hit reset on how the tourism industry will look after COVID-19”.

Starting this month, for the first time since the borders closed in late March, visitors with new visas will be permitted into Thailand. They will be expected to stay for a minimum of 90 days, including a 14-day compulsory quarantine that can be served in a luxury hotel.

Yuthasak Supasorn
Yuthasak Supasorn
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)

“These groups of travellers have the highest potential of increasing money spent on lodging and dining, which can help boost the economy, especially during these difficult pandemic times. We have about 800 to 1,000 Chinese tourists who are ready to travel here on private jets in the first phase of reopening.”

However, the government, which used to worry about the consequences of over-tourism, expects the new visa to be used by around 1,200 tourists a month, producing revenue of about $38 million (1.2 billion baht).

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Experts say, “It’s a good starting initiative to focus on quality instead of quantity, but it won’t be enough to make up for the lost revenue. Tax measures aimed at middle- to high-income Thais to promote spending would help inject more money into the economy.”

But according to a recent survey, a majority of Thais do not agree with the plan to open borders because of the active pandemic status.