As Thailand opens borders, tourists start flowing in

Published on : Monday, November 8, 2021

The streets of Bangkok are buzzing with start-stop traffic and thronging crowds as Thailand rounds off its first week of relaxed border controls that waive quarantine for travellers from more than 60 countries and territories.

Tourist attractions, merchants and restaurants that had been shuttered for a good part of the year are now cracking open their doors again, cautiously optimistic for a revival in a sector that in 2019 brought in more than 1.91 trillion baht (S$77.6 billion).


Already, about 16,000 foreign arrivals have entered Thailand through the various travel schemes that were expanded since Nov 1, with most coming from the United States, Germany, Britain and Japan, said the authorities.



Fully vaccinated air travellers from approved countries and territories can enter the kingdom without undergoing quarantine.





Instead, they will take a COVID-19 test upon landing and spend a night at a government-approved hotel where they have to wait for a negative result before they can travel freely in Thailand.

Those coming from places not on the quarantine-free list can enter via one of the 17 “sandbox” provinces, where they can roam quarantine-free but must remain in the province for a week before travelling elsewhere.



According to Thai Hotels Association (THA) president, Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, it is still early. Most people who will enter Thailand right now are either Thai people, returning residents or those travelling for practical reasons, like business trips.

Thais and Thai residents abroad have also been eagerly awaiting the easing of border controls to avoid lengthy quarantines upon return to Thailand.

Additionally, Thailand’s new entry system for incoming travellers that was launched on Nov 1 has also run into problems, such as system errors and long wait for e-mails confirming their applications, as some have taken to social media to complain about.

Thai authorities said they are working to improve the Thailand Pass registration process.



Over 65,000 people have registered for the pass since Nov 1, with approval already granted to more than 12,000 travellers set to arrive in the coming weeks.

This is a vast improvement over the 73,000 tallied in the first eight months of this year, but a mere fraction of the almost 40 million visitors in 2019.

Chinese tourists who formed the mainstay of Thailand’s inbound travellers are also unlikely to return soon, as China upholds its curbs on outbound travel.

Last year, the number of Chinese tourists fell by 88.6 per cent from 2019’s numbers.


Bangkok’s famous party scene in areas such as Khaosan Road or Soi Cowboy, once overflowing with music, alcohol and merry-makers, have mostly gone dark following a months-long alcohol ban.

Only restaurants and eateries with government certification can serve alcohol until 9 pm. Pubs, bars and karaoke lounges will remain closed until Dec 1.



Mandatory quarantines for visitors in their country of origin or government travel warnings could also discourage would-be tourists to Thailand.








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