Published on : Monday, July 12, 2021
Thailand reopened its resort island of Phuket on July 1 to vaccinated foreign tourists in its first test of how travel in the post-COVID era might look like. Many tourism dependent countries that had closed their borders since the start of the pandemic are also thinking along the same line.
As per Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports data, almost 2 million Indians visited Thailand in 2019 thereby becoming the third-largest group of foreign nationals to visit the “land of smiles” that year. Just a year before, in 2018, Indians comprised the sixth-largest group of foreign visitors. It is a massive leap from 2008 when 537,000 visited and Indian arrivals ranked 11th.
Thailand is indeed an attractive tourist destination. It boasts of pristine beaches and clear blue waters along with natural hillside beauty in the North. It is culturally unique with thousands of mystical and ornate temples. Thais are one of the most naturally friendly and welcoming people on the planet. Equally noteworthy is Thailand’s exciting nightlife, providing fun and delectable cuisine for the enthusiasts.
When COVID started to spread in Thailand last year, the Thai government progressively introduced stricter measures to control the outbreak, including suspension of commercial flights that effectively prevented foreigners from entering the country from April 4. However, with 20 percent of Thailand’s GDP being tourism-dependent, it put an almost equal proportion of Thais into financial risk.
To alleviate the plight of the tourism industry, the Thai government introduced stimulus packages worth 22.4 billion baht (USD689 million) in June 2020. These packages were meant to boost domestic travel by providing subsidies for flights, car rentals, bus fares, hotel accommodation, food, and use of facilities at tourist destinations.