Heavily relied on tourism, Thailand must have gone through lots of ups and downs since the beginning of 2020. However, on the threshold of 2021, the tourism industry of this “land of smiles” has been stabilizing again to prepare for the upcoming growth.
So far quite a fair amount of shops, restaurants, hotels or sporting events in Thailand have resumed activities. According to statistics from Club Med research, although 2020 is a rather struggling year for the global tourism industry, Thailand is still in the Top 10 travel destinations of 2020 by analyzing Google search data with the search volume at 33,000. In addition, Thailand also ranked third in the Top 10 travel destinations of the upcoming 2021 with 1,600 searches on Google.
So what has Thailand done to achieve all these?
Building the image of a safe destination with united and comprehensive measures
To reassure and attract tourists to the country as well as create a solid foundation for domestic tourism, Thailand has rapidly developed a thorough health and safety guideline for each sector of the tourism industry. Specifically, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has developed the Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration (SHA) project to certify all businesses in the tourism industry that meet its health and safety criteria. This certification project aims to help all hotels, restaurants, shopping venues, tourist attractions, transport operators, travel agencies, movie theaters, entertainment venues and sports stadium to ensure that every business nationwide strictly observes these same hygiene protocols. This not only helps Thai people regain their confidence in travel but also becomes a premise for building a safe destination image and preparing for the international tourism reopening in the future.
Among the health and safety measures in the guideline, Thailand also implements the Certificate of Entry to check the health of all the tourists before they are allowed to enter the country, thereby ensuring public health when reopening the border to international visitors.
Enthusiastically supporting international tourists when witnessing high travel demand
At the time of closing the border completely, Thailand has taken advantage of technology in its tourism products, offering virtual reality tours to help visitors contemplate and have a look at the beauty of Thai famous destinations from the comfort of their homes.
According to the original plan, Thailand would close its borders to international tourists until March 2021. However, seeing the surge in travel demand from international visitors, Thailand quickly set up special policies for those who want to travel and visit the country. Typically, the Thai government creates new visa programs, which include Tourist Visa (TR) for short stays (up to 60 days and a possible extension of another 30 days) and Special Tourist Visa (STV) for long stays (maximum of 90 days and 2 extensions of up to 90 days each), for all visitors regardless of their nationalities.
In addition, although the total number of commercial flights to the country has not yet resumed, the Thailand government has allowed some semi-commercial flights to go back to operation. TAT has also summarized and posted detailed schedules of these semi-commercial flights on the Amazing Thailand website for the convenience of visitors.
Furthermore, TAT has partnered with the tourism industry players, including the flag carrier Thai Airways, the Thai Hotel Association (THA) and the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) to launch a new tourism stimulus package called “Amazing Thailand Plus”. Lasting until March 2021, Amazing Thailand Plus has a total of more than 400 packages, including special fares on international and domestic flights, rooms at 70 government-accredited Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) hotels and more than 100 hotels in designated locations across the country, and post-quarantine tours or transfers.
Stepping towards sustainable tourism development
During the outbreak and the halt of the tourism industry, Thailand has witnessed a remarkable recovery in wildlife and quality of the natural environment, especially in many of its outstanding national parks. Realizing that once reopened, the tourism industry of Thailand will inevitably put some pressure on its nature and animal habitats, so Thailand government intends to ensure that these areas in the country remain its pristine beauty to welcome tourists in the short-, mid- as well as long-term future.
Currently, TAT has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to build the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals into its long-term tourism policy framework. Accordingly, the number of tourists will be limited to ensure a balance for Thailand’s natural environment, as well as help its tourism industry preserve the traditional values of people and services.
Thailand is one of the first countries to record the case of Covid-19 and Thailand’s tourism industry has also experienced an unprecedented crisis, especially as its tourism accounts for a very large part of the country’s economic development. However, the Thailand government considered this crisis as an opportunity to re-examine the country’s potential, concentrate on its strengths and re-boost its tourism into recovery. With clear policies and campaigns, Thailand has gradually restored domestic tourism and aims to resume international tourism in the future of sustainable development.