Travel And Tour World: Thailand has decided to lift the mandatory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for travellers entering the country from 1 May to revive the travel and tourism industry from the pandemic woes.
What are the necessary steps taken by the Tourism Authority in Thailand to make safe and secured travel in the country, and how are the Thailand Pass and medical insurance coverage working for the tourists arriving in the country?
Siripakorn Cheawsamoot: As of 1 May, 2022, Thailand has relaxed its entry measures allowing vaccinated travellers to enter the country without having to undergo quarantine and on-arrival testing. To ensure a safe journey in Thailand, TAT is advising tourists to follow the safety and hygiene measures; such as, wearing face masks at all times, regularly cleaning your hands with sanitizer, and doing a self-ATK test when you have COVID-19 symptoms. Although it is not mandatory to stay and use a SHA Plus establishment, TAT encourages visitors to stay in the certified establishment, as they are ensured to meet the necessary safety and hygiene standards.
Travel And Tour World: The easing of travel restrictions is expected to boost tourists’ arrival throughout the world. What is the expectation for the current tourism season of 2022 on the revival of the tourism and MICE industry (in terms of international airline bookings/domestic travel/foreign tourist arrivals/ tourist expenditure/overnight hotel stays, and tourism income)?
Siripakorn Cheawsamoot: In 2022, Thailand tourism is expected to generate around 1.3-1.8 trillion Thai Baht in total, from around 7-10 million international tourists and 160 million trips from the domestic market. TAT is closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and the global and national economy, which could have an impact on the tourism industry.
From our target to attract around 5-15 million international tourists in 2022, we found that in the first three months of this year there were 444,039 international tourists that came to Thailand, which generated 34,173 million Thai Baht in tourism revenue. Since the lifting of the Test & Go entry scheme from 1 May onwards, TAT has set the target of 300,000 international arrivals each month during May-September. As October-December 2022 is the high season for Thailand, TAT expects to see around 1 million international arrivals in each month.
Travel And Tour World: What are the countries that Thailand is right now focusing on to get more international tourists? How does airline connectivity play a role in bringing more international tourists to the country, and how have you secured sufficient air services and frequencies from the international metro cities?
Siripakorn Cheawsamoot: Our overseas offices are working tirelessly with our allies from around the world to bring travellers back to Thailand. For the short-haul market, TAT is focusing on specific markets: India, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Europe, Middle East, Americas and South Korea. These nations have direct commercial flights to Thailand, as well as do not require travellers to test for COVID-19 before travelling and no quarantine is required for vaccinated travellers. The private sector has also shown interest in Bangladesh and Pakistan as well.
Travel And Tour World: Thailand received more than two million visitors from India and China before the pandemic, which helped the Thai kingdom generate more than USD $2.5 billion in revenue from the travel and tourism business. What is the expectation for this year’s tourism season on the arrival of Indian tourists?
Siripakorn Cheawsamoot: In 2022, we have targeted to welcome 500,000 arrivals from the India market, generating 2.4 billion Thai Baht in revenue. In March, there were approximately 18,000 Indian tourists travelling to Thailand. So, we are attempting to push the arrivals up to 80,000 arrivals in May. In the third quarter of this year, more Indian tourists will begin to travel to Thailand as there are international flight resumptions between Indian cities and Thailand’s major destinations.
Travel And Tour World: Thailand has reopened its borders, so it is necessary to support the tourism business and also GDP growth, which has been below that of regional peers. So, what are the marketing strategies; such as, tourism-related campaigns, promotional events, etc. that the Tourism Authority of Thailand has taken to promote the country’s tourist destinations?
Siripakorn Cheawsamoot: The year 2022 is marked as a new chapter for Thailand, as we celebrate the “Visit Thailand Year 2022” where throughout the year, we will invite travellers from around the world to experience the “Amazing New Chapters” of Thailand. As such, our key messages will highlight the abundance of tourism products and services in Thailand that will fulfil all your travel desires because from A to Z, Thailand has it all. To know more click here.
Travel And Tour World: What are the regions in Thailand you want to project to international travellers for best and lifetime experiences?
Siripakorn Cheawsamoot: I would say that we aim to promote all regions in Thailand to travellers because we believe that every region can make your trip most memorable with its different uniqueness. It depends on what kind of the experiences you are seeking. If you are an island hopper, the South of Thailand will offer you an unrivalled beach holiday. Nakhon Ratchasima, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, and KhonKaen are the top most attractions. But, if the culture and greenery scenery are more fascinating to you, the Northern destinations; such as, Chiang Mai and nearby will surely be the answer.
Travel And Tour World: On 22 June last year, the Thai government approved the “Sandbox” programme that allowed national and international travellers to enter Thailand without quarantine. How has the “Sandbox” programme escalated the tourists’ arrival and are you planning to change this sandbox system to make travellers travel with safety and security?
Siripakorn Cheawsamoot: Thailand launched the Sandbox programme in Phuket and Samui in July 2021, to allow international arrivals to enter Thailand without having to undergo quarantine, and travellers were free to travel on the island for seven days before leaving to another part of the country. The Sandbox initiative was the first step in welcoming back international visitors during the pandemic with the aim to attract international visitors who felt trapped from the quarantine and looked for a chance to travel abroad.
After the success of the Phuket and Samui+ Sandbox programme, the government extended the scheme to other destinations in Thailand like Krabi, Phang-Nga, Chiang Mai, and Pattaya. The programme also paved the way for the Test&Go, quarantine-free entry programme, which was launched in November 2021.
It has played an important part in reviving the country’s national and local economy, especially in tourism destinations like Phuket. In 2021, Thailand welcomed 427,869 international arrivals.