DestinationsBut a campaign fronted by inbound tourism players is still rallying for July opening, because otherwise "many companies won’t exist by then".

Thailand could fully reopen by October

ThaiGettyImages- southtownboy
The Thai government has promised sufficient time will be given for hotels, airlines and the tourism industry to prepare for October reopening in time for the high season. Photo Credit: Getty Images/southtownboy

Thailand's Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) confirmed on 10 March that the Thai government is eyeing an October reopening with all Covid-19 restrictions lifted.

However, the committee also stressed that this decision is not yet final and that many factors will first come into play, including active cooperation from the private sector and members of the public to the government's Covid-19 containment efforts.

Assistant spokesperson of the CCSA, Dr Apisamai Srirangsan said that the country has plans to reduce quarantine starting with specific areas first, hopefully from April, according to The Pattaya News. Approval will be discussed over ministry meetings by the CCSA with the Thai Cabinet this week.

Should this be approved, this easing will be considered as Phase 2.

However, a complete reopening with zero quarantine — which the inbound international tourism sector is pushing hard for — will happen only in Phase 3, potentially in October. Even then, this is still only a goal — and not finalised.

More details of the potential October reopening are expected to be made available after the ministry meetings this week, according to a Bangkok Post report.

Dr Apisamai stated during the 10 March conference that the government would ensure sufficient time is given for hotels, airlines and the tourism industry to prepare for reopening in time for the October "high season".

Meanwhile, a group of travel industry members behind the #OpenThailandSafely campaign is still lobbying the government to drop quarantines and reopen the country by 1 July.

“Safe opening of Thailand with proof of vaccination should occur anytime between 1 June and 1 July 2021. This would give the tourism industry some time to prepare. Leaving it until October would be too late. Many companies won’t exist by then,” said Willem Niemeijer, CEO, Yaana Ventures and co-founder of the Open Thailand Safely campaign, in a joint statement with Luzi Matzig, chairman of Asian Trails and William Heinecke, chairman of The Minor Group.

"We are grateful that the Thai government is recognising the urgency and importance of tourism and the need to help people dependent on international tourism," said an official #OpenThailandSafely statement, which added that "any form of quarantine is ‘old’ thinking. Tourism in Thailand cannot recover with any kind of quarantine."

The statement also referenced other countries such as the Maldives, Greece, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Costa Rica and others which have opened their borders with no quarantine. "Thailand should do the same, otherwise tourists will simply go elsewhere."

Elsewhere in the region, Singapore's Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung on Friday, 12 March announced the probability of bilateral travel corridors for vaccinated travellers coming from destinations with low to moderate infection rates, pegged for the second half of 2021.

Similarly, Alexandre de Juniac, chief at the International Air Transport Association (IATA), in an interview with Singapore media The Straits Times, believed that personal and leisure travel will return in the latter half of this year.

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI