Thailand has just announced its plans to restart tourism. I wouldn’t take it as a safe bet that this plan will stand, but it comes as close to a safe bet as we’ve seen it from the land. Thailand deserves at least credit for constantly providing information about the contemplated restarts of tourism, even if the government has come up with some neat cockamamie plans.
Thailand’s plan to gradually open up to visitors
This week the Thai cabinet approved plans to reopen the country to foreign tourists, albeit gradually. The current plan is as follows:
- As of April 1, 2021, the quarantine for visitors will be reduced from 14 days to 10 days for all arrivals, with the exception of visitors from some African countries
- As early as next month, Chiang Mai, Koh Samui, Krabi, Pattaya, Phang Na and Phuket will be reopened to fully vaccinated tourists, although a seven-day quarantine will still be required for these visitors
- From July 1, 2021, vaccinated tourists can travel to Phuket without a quarantine requirement
- If this proves successful, the quarantine requirement for vaccinated tourists in Chiang Mai, Koh Samui, Krabi, Pattaya, Phang Na and Phuket will be abolished from October 1, 2021
- Starting in 2022, Thailand plans to lift all quarantine requirements for foreign visitors
Phuket will be the first Thai travel destination open to vaccinated tourists
Thailand is rushing to vaccinate those in Phuket
As you can see, Thailand plans to make Phuket the first place for vaccinated travelers. Why is this popular travel destination singled out? The Thai government is focusing its vaccination efforts on Phuket with the hope of vaccinating 70% of Phuket’s population by July.
The governor of Phuket said this week that he hopes to vaccinate up to 50,000 people with the first dose within seven days of the vaccines arriving on the island.
Thailand prioritizes vaccinations in Phuket
My take on Thailand’s reopening plan
I have a few conflicting thoughts about Thailand’s plan to reopen to tourists.
On the one hand, I recommend Thailand for its constant public updates to its tourism plan, even if things are not set in stone. At least we know where Thailand stands on tourism in contrast to some other countries like Australia and New Zealand (and of course it is their prerogative not to prioritize a tourism resumption plan).
On the other hand, I can’t help scratching my head a bit here. All the data I’ve seen suggest that asymptomatic spread is extremely rare among those fully vaccinated. Granted, we learn over time and this is based on study over a relatively short period of time, but that is still current thinking as best I can tell.
In this sense, this plan seems very restrictive to me:
- In the next few months, tourists who have been vaccinated in Thailand will have to be quarantined for another week
- Thailand will only open select locations to vaccinated visitors from October, in more than six months, and that doesn’t even include a plan to allow vaccinated travelers to visit Bangkok
- Only sometime in 2022 will Thailand become more widespread
Of course there is always some risk involved in such things, but Thailand is also heavily reliant on tourism and that has a huge impact on people’s lives and wellbeing. It is one thing if Thailand settled for nothing but zero cases, but that is not entirely the case in Thailand.
Of course I respect Thailand’s decision here, but personally I have no interest in planning a trip to Thailand until the country is more or less open to vaccinated tourists. This plan is just too restrictive, not to mention the fact that it is likely to change. Given the frequency with which plans change, gambling is just not worth it.
This plan is too restrictive for me to consider visiting Thailand
The Thai government has approved a reopening plan. From July 1, vaccinated travelers will be allowed to visit Phuket without quarantine, and from October 1, vaccinated travelers will also be able to travel to selected other destinations. However, the country is not planning a wider opening until 2022.
What do you think of Thailand’s plan to reopen tourism? What would it take for you to visit?
(Hat tip to Drew)