Oh Thailand. Such a lovely country. Such a lovely people. But its approach to tourism during the pandemic leaves me shaking my head.
Thailand Plans To Resume Tourism With Many Strings Attached
Thailand has been closed to international tourism since March and has largely remained insulated from the pandemic, with only 3,659 reported COVID-19 cases and 59 deaths.
But while shutdown has protected the Thai people from the pandemic, it has unleashed severe economic damage to a nation in which tourism accounts for 17% of GDP.
Last month, Thailand announced plans to re-open to tourism, but mandated a 31-step plan that included:
- A minimum of 104 nights of pre-paid hotel stays (14-nights quarantine plus 90 nights)
- Special health insurance coverage of $100,000+
- Proof of funds to cover charter flights/private jets between cities
Not surprisingly, the plan failed to draw tourists.
Now Thailand is out with a new tourist plans that is relatively better…but still pretty bad.
The new plan seeks to ensure that tourists do not have any contact with Thai locals…by assigning minders to them like you find when visiting North Korea.
Tourists will need to stay away from cities and wear tracking bracelets.
As View from the Wing notes, what’s the point of going to Thailand without the bustling street stalls or interacting with locals? Who wants to fly all the way to Thailand for a game of golf unless you live in the region?
Practically, though, I have to suspect such rules will not be so closely enforced. Time will tell.
I look forward to the day I can return to Thailand…and to other cities in Asia. I have greatly missed East Asia this year. But it seems to me like if Thailand is going to require all tourists to be escorted 24/7 (and probably pay for the privilege), it should just wait and re-open once it truly feels safe enough to let tourism resume in its pre-pandemic state.