Tens of thousands of travellers expected to arrive Thailand as borders reopen after 18 months
Thai officials have allowed vaccinated visitors from more than 60 "low-risk" nations permission to bypass hotel quarantine, giving the industry a much-needed lifeline.
Tens of thousands of tourists were scheduled to arrive in Bangkok and Phuket on Monday as Thailand's tourism sector reopened after an 18-month hiatus due to Covid restrictions.
The coronavirus outbreak wreaked havoc on the kingdom's tourism-dependent economy, which had its worst year since the 1997 Asian financial crisis, with arrivals falling by more than 80%. Thai officials have allowed vaccinated visitors from more than 60 "low-risk" nations permission to bypass hotel quarantine, giving the industry a much-needed lifeline.
Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok and Phuket's international terminal will be the first to welcome travellers under the new rules, with the rest of the country following suit. Thailand seeks to capitalise on December visitors looking to escape the winter blues, with numerous European nations, the United States, and China on the authorised list. "The most important issue that the government and I are thinking about right now is restoring people's livelihoods," Premier Prayut Chan-O-Cha said on Friday. Tourism contributes to about one-fifth of the economy, and the pandemic's impact has resonated throughout restaurants and transportation industries.
However, authorities anticipate that 10 to 15 million people will return next year, with profits expected to exceed $30 billion. However, industry insiders are less hopeful, especially since regional superpower China – the source of the lion's share of visitors – continues to require returns to go through a tight quarantine regimen. Thailand continues to record over 10,000 Covid infections every day, even though only about 40% of the population has gotten two doses of a vaccine. In Bangkok, the incidence of double-dose immunisation is close to 80%. Pre-pandemic Thailand receives over 40 million visitors every year who come to enjoy its beautiful beaches, street cuisine, and iconic nightlife.