Mass tourism to Thailand is out but medical and health travel allowed

As part of the government’s very cautious approach to reopening borders, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) does not expect Thailand to welcome mass tourists until 2021. The country has started allowing entry for certain group of foreigners, including medical and health tourists, although the 2020 international tourist numbers will be below 100,000.

Discussions over creating travel bubbles have been halted because of outbreaks in many of the countries Thailand was hoping to get tourists from, including Vietnam.

Thai tourism operators are proposing a new inbound tourism plan, called Safe and Sealed, to replace travel bubbles. The scheme is designed to help tourism businesses survive should Thai borders remain shut to international visitors.

The plan envisages safer, more flexible screening procedures for many countries. Under the plan, only visitors from cities with a record of zero infections for at least a 30-day window will be selected, and they will be able to travel and stay in designated hotels and provinces. Other safety protocols will include a Covid-free certificate 72 hours before flights, as well as insurance and swab tests.

Thailand has started allowing entry for certain group of foreigners, including medical and health tourists although the 2020 numbers will be below 100,000, which is inadequate to save the tourism industry. The new inbound plan is expected to draw at least 500,000 tourists to Thailand if the government accepts it.

In the Bangladesh market, TAT will continue to position and promote Thailand as a Muslim friendly destination and focus on medical tourist segments

In 2019, Thailand welcomed 132,800 Bangladeshis, including 50,000 medical tourists, TAT claims. Bangladesh is regarded as one of high potential markets to Thailand from South Asia.

TAT has a plan that includes:

  • Reboot: Prioritising stimulation of domestic travel, building consumer confidence, encouraging tourists to spend more while they are travelling in Thailand.
  • Rebuild: Supporting the private sector to prepare and adapt to the new normal and enhancing long-term competitiveness.
  • Rebrand: Maintaining “Amazing Thailand” brand loyalty among Thai and foreign visitors and building confidence for travelling to Thailand as the first-choice destination.
  • Rebound: Stimulating a revival of the international markets by maintaining rapport with existing customers and promoting the potential segments.
  • Rebalance: Focusing on a sustainability management framework with a responsibility to society and environment.

Thailand launched an “Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration (SHA) Certification” in cooperation with Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Public Health and associations of travel and tourism in Thailand.

The SHA project aims to make tourism a part of the overall national preventive measures, to ensure that both Thai and foreign tourists have a positive experience, and that they are happy and confident in the sanitation and safety of Thailand’s tourism products and services.