Tourism operators want Bangkok to be included in quarantine free 'Sandbox Scheme'

30 Mar 2021

According to tourism operators, Bangkok should be included in the tourism sandbox scheme for October, which allows vaccinated visitors to enter without quarantine, or Thailand will miss the mark of its goal of 6.5 million foreign tourists this year.

Bangkok is a strategic tourism hub, according to Vichit Prakobgosol, vice-president of the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT), as 90 percent of tourists in Pattaya must begin their journey in Bangkok.

Apart from Phuket, which will reopen on July 1st, five other destinations will reopen in October: Krabi, Phangnga, Koh Samui, Pattaya, and Chiang Mai.

TCT predicts that 3 million tourists will visit those six destinations, contributing 156 billion baht, with 2 million tourists from Phuket contributing 105 billion.

If Bangkok will welcome inoculated tourists, he reports that another 3 million will be added to the tally, bringing it closer to the 6.5 million goals. This forecast, however, is depending on Bangkok's vaccination rate, according to Mr. Vichit.

"Bilateral agreements on travel bubbles should be announced by the government with low-risk areas such as China, Hong Kong, Singapore, or South Korea, and vaccine certificates must be distributed by April to allow operators to prepare in advance," he said.

Thaneth Tantipiriyakij, vice-president of the Phuket Tourist Association, said the province is increasing vaccinations to 10,000-12,000 doses per day, while daily arrivals at Phuket airport recently reached 10,000, up from 2,000 during the second wave. But the level remains a far cry from 60,000-100,000 before the pandemic.

TCT President Chamnan Srisawat said that must continue to support the domestic market while waiting for the market to reopen. Unemployment in the tourism industry rose by 411,840 to 1.45 million people, according to a TCT survey.

The tourism index for the first quarter was 36, down from 62 in the fourth quarter last year, according to a poll of 730 operators published between February 24 and March 10. This reading is the second-lowest since the pandemic began, trailing only the second quarter last year at 12. A reading below 100 indicates low confidence.

Due to the lowest infection rate, tourism operators in the Northeast had the highest reading of 55, while those in the west and east had the lowest reading of 26 and 29, respectively.

The government plans to allow Songkran celebrations to occur without any restrictions on travel. Thailand's Tourism Authority estimates that 3.2 million tourists come during the six-day holiday (April 10-15), generating 12 billion baht.