OPINION — Foreign tourists to be banned from Thailand’s beaches?
In recent weeks, it has been difficult to keep track of the number of people on social media who are now saying Thailand is the last country they will visit as tourists.
Even when borders eventually open up and some tourists are allowed to return.
Much of this is due to incredibly strict restrictions various Thai authorities have announced over the last few months. Restrictions that will apply only to foreign tourists, even when they are allowed to return, and restrictions that change, if not hourly, daily.
News from Bloomberg this morning certainly won’t help that fact as, according to the Tourism Council of Thailand president Chairat Trirattanajarasporn, beaches and national parks will not fully open for foreign tourists until a vaccine for Covid-19 is found.
That could mean for foreign tourists who travel to destinations like Phuket and Koh Samui specifically for the beaches, they could arrive and discover it is not possible to visit one.
One wonders then how Thailand is going to sell itself to foreign tourists, when many would not be able to do the thing they love the most?
Particularly as a Covid-19 vaccine is likely to take years to develop and, even then, will not be close to 100% effective. (Here is information on how long vaccines have taken to develop in the past — decades in many instances).
Oddly too, if the Bloomberg report is correct, it seems the Tourism Council of Thailand thinks its plan to allow only a miniscule number of tourists into Thailand in coming months (currently only 120 Chinese tourists will be allowed in October) is a plan other tourist-dependent countries like Greece could also emulate.
Considering countries like Greece have already re-opened to tourists, and also have governments better educated and far less panic-stricken than the Thai government when it comes to Covid-19, it is highly unlikely Greece or any other country with an intelligent government would follow the Thai plan.
Not unless their goal was to destroy their tourist industry as successfully as Thailand has been able to do.
Even Chairat admits the plan that is currently in place to help Thailand restart its tourism industry is not one that will benefit most businesses involved in that industry.
He predicts the revenue of the tourism industry in Thailand will drop 82.6% by the end of 2020, and that many more businesses are going to close in coming months.
“Businesses that rely on foreign tourists, especially in Phuket, Samui, Pattaya and Chiang Mai, will continue to close in the coming months because there would only be a small group of people coming in after the reopening.”
One wonders then how long it will take before the Tourism Council of Thailand and the Thai government realize the consequences of their lockdowns and ban on foreign tourists will be far far worse than anything Covid could create?
When foreign tourists are happily traveling elsewhere, Thailand’s tourism industry has completely disappeared and millions of Thais are permanently unemployed?