Survey finds interest in reopening borders

Survey finds interest in reopening borders

Locals want tourists back with quarantine

A vendor on Yaowarat Road in Bangkok sits idly. Operators in the central and eastern regions and Bangkok displayed the weakest confidence in the tourism industry. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)
A vendor on Yaowarat Road in Bangkok sits idly. Operators in the central and eastern regions and Bangkok displayed the weakest confidence in the tourism industry. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)

Several local residents and tourism operators surveyed want Thailand to reopen borders to international tourists with a 14-day quarantine still in place, according to the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT).

A survey conducted by TCT found 60% of locals and 50% of tourism operators agree with the idea, said Chamnan Srisawat, TCT's president.

A mandatory quarantine was considered necessary, with 60% of operators only agreeing if tourists use the special tourist visa and undergo a 14-day quarantine in closed areas with access to recreational activities.

Some 53% of operators also agreed to welcome independent tourists from low-risk countries, while mandating 10-14 days quarantine for local communities.

On lifting the quarantine for travellers from low-risk countries, only 39% of locals polled approved, while half of operators agree. Operators insisted tourists must buy VIP packages and travel under supervision in tour groups for shorter periods of around 7-10 days.

The TCT surveyed 785 tourism-related operators and 1,444 Thais from Nov 11-Dec 10.

Mr Chamnan said despite special holidays being added to the calendar, the confidence for those periods in the first quarter was bleak, as the confidence index fell to 61.

The index polled 1,020 tourism-related operators from Nov 11-Dec 29 last year, before the ongoing outbreak peaked.

A reading of 100 shows tourism is stable, while a reading below 100 indicates a drop in confidence.

The upcoming holidays in February include Chinese New Year on Feb 12, while other festive events that usually attract tourism spending, such as Valentine's Day and Makha Bucha, also saw confidence drop to 61.

Operators in the central region, the eastern region and Bangkok showed the weakest confidence.

These areas have been designated as maximum or strict control zones by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration during the recent outbreak.

According to the survey, travel firms topped the business closures rate in the fourth quarter last year, with 2% of companies permanently closed, 17% temporarily closed and 4% shifting to other businesses.

Even though 77% of tour companies surveyed are still operating, most of them reported little to no demand.

Restaurants and souvenir shops were bullish about the holidays as they expect to benefit from the government's co-payment subsidy scheme for food and goods.

Travel sentiment in the first quarter of 2021 showed 45% of Thais consider the virus situation their greatest concern for their travel decisions, followed by financial status (38%), time to travel (28%) and political unrest (13%).

Mr Chamnan said tourism activity will resume once the virus is under control and people gain more confidence in travelling.

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