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Thailand’s tourism industry aims to improve on Sandbox in the country’s reopening


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Thailand’s decimated tourism industry is making final preparations for the grand reopening on Nov. 1 with high hopes of welcoming international travellers across Thailand. On November 1, the country will reopen with some complicated entry options and quarantine-free travel for arrivals from 46 low-risk countries.

The Phuket Sandbox plan, with nearly 58,000 arrivals as of July 1, is seen by observers as both a success and a failure. The reopening of Samui Plus was clearly much less successful with 1,825 arrivals to Koh Samui and a paltry 134 and 54 international arrivals to Koh Phangan and Koh Tao respectively since 15 July.

Now the tourism industry hopes that bumps in the road have been removed and Thailand can overcome the Covid19 debacle and restart the tourism economy. They hope that major gateways like Bangkok will see a significant cash injection with minimal health and safety concerns. The capital is now 70% vaccinated and hopes to prevent a Covid-19 outbreak.

Tourism and Sports Minister Pipat Ratchakitprakan says Bangkok is ready to restart the tourism industry, which is considered the most visited city in the world for the past 6 years. He also stated (strangely) that Krabi and Phang Nga are also prepared for reopening, despite launching a reopening already at the beginning of the month.

The minister further suggested that provinces such as Chiang Mai, which plan to reopen but see rising Covid19 infections, should consider whether or not to reopen the tourism industry, with a decision by the provincial governor.

The health ministry is planning ahead for the possibility of Covid19 outbreaks and is ensuring that provinces are supplied with medical equipment, staff and beds, although the tourism minister points out that the Phuket Sandbox plan showed transfers from Thais to tourists were not common

Thailand has received just under 86,000 international travellers this year, worth 2.25 billion baht, and the tourism industry is targeting 300,000 visitors next month and another 700,000 in December. The Ministry of Tourism and Sports and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs predict 10 to 15 million tourists in 2022 plus 160 million domestic trips generating 1.5 trillion baht in revenue.

The ministry is still targeting wealthy tourists, pointing out that Phuket Sandbox travellers have spent 60,000 baht each, 15,000 more than before the Covid pandemic, although they don’t seem to account for the higher cost of mandatory testing and other additional eCovid19 costs.

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