Thailand receives first set of foreign tourists since April

Published on : Thursday, November 26, 2020

According to latest reports by Thailand’s tourism ministry, the country received more than 1,000 foreign tourists in October for the first time since its travel ban in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tourists began returning in small numbers as the country gradually opened up to a selected number of visitors to help its devastating tourism-reliant economy.

Tourism ministry data showed the latest visitors to Thailand included 471 from China, 231 from neighbouring Cambodia, 178 from Middle East countries and 116 from Europe, all travelling on special 90-day visas that require two weeks of quarantine. Thailand has been largely successful in battling the COVID-19 crisis so far and its entry restrictions have helped keep its coronavirus cases to less than 4,000.

The country is also planning to start a travel bubble with China to boost an economy the government predicts will shrink by 6% this year. However, such arrangements are yet to be agreed upon and previous plans were abandoned in August after coronavirus cases in Asia increased. While Thailand has relaxed most of its coronavirus measures to allow businesses to fully reopen and some visitors to return, it has retained a nationwide state of emergency to prevent the second wave of the pandemic.

According to the data, the 1,201 foreign arrivals in October is a fraction of the 3.07 million foreign visitors that arrived in the country during the same month last year. The tourism ministry did not provide details about the revenue generated from the foreign visitors and said that some of the information may be subject to revisions. Thailand netted more than $60 billion in revenue from about 40 million visitors in 2019, as per the official data.

The nation’s ailing tourism industry is struggling to draw visitors as authorities have retained a mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival amid a surge in confirmed infections worldwide. In January-October 2020, the number of foreign tourists in Thailand dropped 79.5% to 6.69 million and zero tourists were recorded in April-September. The state planning agency forecasted 6.7 million foreign tourists this year after last year’s revised record of 39.9 million visitors who spent 1.91 trillion baht ($63 billion), or about 11.3% of gross domestic product (GDP) and predicts only 5 million foreign visitors in 2021.

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