US travellers turning to quarantine-free holidays
Travel requirements for fully vaccinated travellers are the greatest obstacles for the US market as its key competitors such as Caribbean destinations offer less complicated conditions to lure tourists back, said the New York Office of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
Santi Sawangcharoen, director of the TAT's New York Office, said US travellers have shifted their preferences towards quarantine-free beach destinations, especially the Caribbean and the Maldives, instead of the previously popular Europe and Canada.
Mr Santi said most tour operators are focussing on countries that are fully open without requiring quarantine, such as in the Caribbean.
Some of them perceive that Asian nations are still largely closed for tourism, so they suggest tourists avoid them until the end of August.
With the attempt to differentiate Phuket sandbox and Samui Plus from the whole country yet to bring positive results, Mr Santi said the 7+7 island-hopping scheme will add more travel options.
He said that even if the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned their citizens against travelling to Thailand, individuals could still go there.
However, restrictions during trips, such as compulsory Covid-19 tests, pose a more critical challenge for this market.
"The Certificate of Entry applications are growing, but have not significantly increased," said Mr Santi. "Moreover, tourists have to consider other factors such as the incident in Phuket and the political climate."
As of Aug 24, the US market was the biggest source of international arrivals for the Phuket sandbox, providing 3,222 travellers out of a total of 24,190 tourists from all countries, according to the Immigration Phuket Sandbox Report.
He said the Canadian market also sees travel requirements as obstacles, particularly numerous and costly Covid tests.
Canada has had to endure long lockdowns, which has hit the financial wellbeing of its citizens.
Mr Santi said Canada is currently facing a fourth wave despite a high vaccination rate at 73% of the population.
The long-haul travel options will not be a priority as Canadian travellers tend to be more cautious in their spending than the US market.
A total of 79% of Canadians who took the survey will definitely or probably travel to destinations that accept vaccinated tourists in the next 12 months, while only 38% plan to travel in the next 1-3 months, according to the Covid-19 Consumer and Agent Survey July 2021 by Travelweek, a Canada-based travel news source.
Mr Santi said travel to Thailand from this market is expected to rebound next year once travel restrictions are relaxed.