The Tourism Authority of Thailand has formulated a strategy to support domestic tourism first and learn from the experience, as it eases into the challenge of bringing back international travellers.
In a TAT ‘backgrounder’ feature posted on its website last week the government agency said it had identified basic truths one of them being that the tourism industry will now remain under disease control measures until a vaccine is developed to prevent this disease.
“This will affect and change all behaviour and patterns of traditional travel and tourism activities starting with the aviation experience,” TAT says.
Only the fittest travel
Only the strongest will travel as tourists will focus more on their health and safety. The so-call ‘new normal’ which in fact is highly abnormal for Thai tourism will concentrate on travelling less maintaining smaller gatherings and avoiding crowds. This is the antithesis of what has made Thai tourism the success it is today. Mass tourism, festivals, large scale events, a massive nightlife entertainment industry with all of its health social risks are the hallmark that gave the country 39.8 million tourists last year. This year the country will be lucky to attract a third of that total.
All markets, both mainstream and niche markets, will be evaluated for opportunities. However, Thailand’s tourism industry is highly dependent on international arrivals, and ultimately, it will be consumers who decide if and when they feel comfortable enough to travel overseas.
Visitors to Thailand will need to have a fit-to-fly medical certificate and medical insurance cover that includes Covid-19 valued at $100,000.
The number of tourists has to be limited to avoid congestion. Once arriving in Thailand, tourists will be required to undergo a Covid-19 rapid test screening process for reconfirmation, and then depart to a sealed area resort location, most likely islands, without making any stops. The swab tests are not 100% reliable and require a long waiting time for processing between six to 12 hours that might not be practical for airports to manage.
While staying in Thailand, tourists are required to install and use a tracking application on their smartphone for the safety and protection of travelling in and out of sealed areas. The entire focus will be on high-end international tourists who can afford to take out expensive medical insurance cover and are prepared to be transported in a bubble to a beach resort experience.
Financial support will need to be extended to airlines and tour operators to use in public relations or for tourism marketing campaigns.
Outbound travel tax
TAT talks about collecting a tax from outbound Thai tourists to support domestic tourism while also exempting the visa application fees at embassies or consulates, including visa-on-arrival application fees. This would require a compensation budget for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Immigration Bureau.