Thailand’s reopening sees UK travellers chomping at the bit

Thailand’s reopening sees UK travellers chomping at the bit

As this month marks the official reopening of Thailand, the Tourism Authority of Thailand says UK travellers are chomping at the bit to visit. A spike in enquiries to travel to Thailand has pushed for more flight plans from British Airways and TUI. TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn says the agency is now organising tourism operators’ joining with WTM London through a physical and virtual mart that ends on November 8.

Yuthasak says they have received a lot of interest, but concerns around the requirement for 12-18 year old travellers to be double-vaccinated remain. Currently the Test & Go UK scheme is only administering 1 dose to people in this age group. The current alcohol ban in some tourism areas is also not exactly exciting tourism operators and travellers alike.

Now, with British Airways planning to resume flights, and the UK’s TUI travel company planning charter flights to Phuket, the TAT deputy governor for marketing communications, says the interest is high for Brits wanting a much-needed holiday in Thailand.

The TAT is jointly promoting package sales with TUI, offering RT-PCR tests at a competitive £30 per test. However, the current regulations that demand guests to go to a hospital upon a positive Covid-19 test, and the Thailand Pass, is not doing the tourism industry any favours. As many other countries don’t have these requirements, many say going through these strict mandates is off-putting.

Last month, Thailand was removed from Britain’s red list, meaning those who arrived from the Kingdom would not be required to enter a hotel quarantine. Now, the UK has only 7 countries in which travellers are advised to refrain from visiting: Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. The UK’s Transport Ministry has also relaxed restrictions on arrivals from places like Ghana, Turkey, and India and will now recognise their vaccination status. Fully-vaccinated travellers will now only need to submit to a Covid-19 test on day 2.

The UK has now missed 2 summers of tourism, due to tough travel restrictions that made it difficult for people to travel overseas or for international tourists to visit. Airlines have criticised the restrictions, in particular the frequency with which they changed. The uncertainty caused by the constant changes has undoubtedly proved a significant deterrent for travellers.

TAT revised down the estimated number of international tourists this year to 100,000, but with a surge in new bookings in November, the total number this year might increase to 700,000. But Chinese tourists can be counted out of those numbers as the strict 21-day quarantine for returning residents has largely kept many travel markets from counting on Chinese tourists. The government’s strict quarantine policy is part of its push to achieve a zero-Covid status, however unobtainable that may be. For now, the absence, of Chinese visitors will leave a US$255 billion annual spending hole in the global tourism market. As Thailand is always a favourite of Chinese tourists, current incoming tourism estimates may be impacted by the absence of Chinese visitors.

Thailand’s November 1 reopening saw more than 6,600 travellers entering the country, signifying a major step since closing its borders back in March 2020.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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