Poll reveals split view on reopening
Some 50% of Thais agree with a plan to reopen the country for specific groups of tourists, says the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT), while domestic tour operators are proposing inclusive measures to the government.
The TCT survey polled 1,362 Thais during Aug 15-30, including residents in Phuket, Chiang Mai, Koh Samui, Krabi and Pattaya.
Some 46% of respondents still disagreed with the idea of reopening, said TCT president Chairat Trirattanajarasporn.
When drilling down to specific points of view, 83% disagreed with reopening on a broader scale for tourists worldwide, while 58% opposed a scheme to bring in long-stay tourists.
Those who live in provinces heavily reliant on the international market mostly agreed to receive long-stay tourists. In Phuket, 51% agreed with the plan and 39% disagreed. In Koh Samui, 38% would like to welcome long-term visitors, while those against and remaining neutral were 31% each.
There were also diverse viewpoints towards a so-called travel bubble allowing leisure tourists from low-risk countries to visit Thailand. Some 52% of Thais said no to the idea, but respondents from Phuket and Koh Samui were mostly in favour.
While the TCT and other tourism associations are urging the government to prepare a shorter quarantine plan for international arrivals, Mr Chairat acknowledged that the idea may not conform to public opinion.
A majority (57%) said they still wanted tourists to quarantine for 14 days before travelling elsewhere under strict disease control measures.
Just 10% agreed with removing the 14-day quarantine and bringing tourists to limited areas instead, such as Phuket, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Chang.
Some 33% said that if the government scraps the compulsory quarantine, tourists must come under the escort of tour operators only.
If Thailand welcomes international tourists this year, the plan will not affect domestic tourism, said Thanapol Cheewarattanaporn, president of the Association of Domestic Travel. But to encourage more Thais to travel, he said the stimulus campaign called We Travel Together must include tour operators as well.
The government should consider giving a 40% subsidy on tour packages not exceeding 5,000 baht per person, he said.
Mr Thanapol said tour products will not only serve demand from the elderly who can fill up weekday slots, but also create more jobs for tour guides and tour bus operators.
The elderly accounted for about 11 million of Thailand's population of 66 million last year.
Mr Thanapol said the tourism plan was submitted to the Tourism and Sports Ministry and the Tourism Authority of Thailand this week.