Covid-19 continues to have global ramifications on the tourism industry leaving Thai authorities with a difficult balancing act. On the one hand, there is pressure to reopen up the country to international tourists. While on the other hand, there is a desire to ensure all possible safety measures are taken to protect the people who live in Thailand. In terms of when Thailand will reopen to overseas tourists, the situation remains fluid. We will add updates on this page and on our dedicated Covid-19 advice page as and when more is known. In the meantime, the Fan Club Thailand website editor, Roy Cavanagh, lives in Thailand and in this article addresses some of the main questions readers have been asking.
Date of publication: 16 September, 2020
Date of last update: 7 January, 2021
What is the Covid-19 situation in Thailand?
Thailand started issuing daily ‘Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19)’ updates in February 2020. Since that date, there have been a total of 58 deaths recorded. At the time of writing (16 September 2020)* these were the official Covid-19 statistics from Thailand:
*Update: 7 January, 2021
There was a spike in cases at the end of 2020. These are the figures released on 7 January, 2021.
Thailand has received praise from the World Health Organization (WHO) for the way the country has handled the pandemic. Thai authorities took a strong stance early on and the majority of the public have followed advice about wearing masks, observing social distancing, and washing hands regularly. The approach appears to have worked and with the low number of reported cases, there is now a more relaxed attitude in many parts of the country about wearing masks. Away from tourist areas, the day-to-day situation in Thailand feels like it is back to near normal. However, the prospect of an economic crisis may yet prove to be a bigger problem than Covid-19.
There is no hiding the fact that it has been an incredibly tough time for anybody in Thailand involved directly or indirectly in tourism. It’s estimated that around 15% of Thailand’s gross domestic product (GDP) comes from tourism. The economic fallout from the lack of international tourists has led to job losses and business closures. And that has had a knock-on effect for many individuals and small businesses. For some, it is already too late and businesses have closed and people are looking for employment elsewhere. A tuk-tuk driver I was chatting to in Chiang Mai earlier this week summed up the thoughts of others who I have talked with in recent months when he said, “I’m not scared about Covid. I’m scared about having no money to support my family.”
Can I fly to Thailand?
Although it’s now possible to fly to Thailand, there are some restrictions and various documents need to be prepared in advance. Notably, it is still mandatory for travellers arriving in Thailand to undergo quarantine for 2 weeks. Thai passport holders can apply for a state quarantine facility while non-Thais are obliged to use designated quarantine facilities. These are hotels which all meet the strict criteria of Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health. Tourists who want to visit Thailand for a short holiday will have to continue to be patient.
For full details, please contact the Royal Thai Embassy/Consulate in the country where you are intending to travel from:
Travel from the United Kingdom
Travel from Ireland
And also see the regularly updated information on the travel advice page here:
Coronavirus (Covid-19): Thailand travel advice
Are land borders open to tourists?
Land borders are currently closed to tourists wishing to enter Thailand. No official date has yet been given for when land crossings will reopen.
When will tourists be allowed to return to Thailand?
At the moment (information updated 17 December, 2020) it still isn’t known when tourists who want to enjoy a holiday in Thailand without the need for quarantine will be allowed to enter. Different schemes have been suggested to restart international tourism, but nothing concrete has yet been agreed.
My personal view is that international tourism to Thailand will resume in stages starting first with visitors from Asia and from countries who have low numbers of Covid-19 cases. Again this is a personal view, but it could be mid-2021 before tourists from the UK and Ireland are allowed to visit Thailand on holiday without the need for quarantine on arrival. There’s a chance it could be sooner than that, but much will also depend on potential vaccines, improved testing systems, and the Covid-19 situation in the UK and Ireland.
Preparing for the return of tourism
Although there is still uncertainty over when tourists from the UK and Ireland will be allowed to travel to Thailand without the need to quarantine on arrival, steps are being taken to prepare for that eventuality.
To aid the recovery of Thailand’s tourism sector and restore confidence, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has launched a new safety initiative. In association with public and private sector partners, the Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration (SHA) certification has been introduced. To be granted a certificate under the SHA scheme, hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions and other facilities need to meet the strict Covid-19 control guidelines issued by the Ministry of Public Health.
Thank you for your support of Thailand. While the current situation keeps us apart, we wish you all good health and we look forward to welcoming you back to Thailand soon. We will add updates here and on our travel advice page once more information is known.