TAT forecasts international visits will rise to 1 million from 1st November 2021 to 31st March 2022. But travel industry executives note that while the new rules might be more user-friendly, the bulk of the arrivals remain in the “essential travel” category.
The risks, uncertainties, and the see-saw swings in regulations and policy will remain a deterrent for genuine leisure tourists. Speaking to agents and online travel executives here in Bangkok, bookings for real tourists are still very thin on the ground. Most bookings are from returning Thais and expats with jobs here.
Many of the early Phuket Sandbox arrivals fell into this category, as it was the first opportunity to return to Thailand after waiting-it-out overseas, not being allowed to easily travel to Thailand and thus not able to return to their homes. During the first three days after the country reopened on the 1st November, the Department of Health said 4,510 travellers entered the country with just six passengers testing positive for Covid-19.
Most of the passengers were returning Thais and expat Thailand residents plus travellers from Singapore, Japan, Germany, London, Qatar and China. TAT’s latest press report Thailand Travel Situation stated that January to September 2021, Thailand welcomed 85,845 international visitors through various entry schemes, such as the Sandbox, Special Tourist Visa (STV), the Thailand Privilege Card and Medical Tourism.