Thailand plans an Australian travel bubble

Thailand aims for a reboot of its tourism industry, but will shift its focus from the mass-market to premium holidaymakers.

By Bloomberg News, June 20 2020
Thailand plans an Australian travel bubble

Thailand’s tourism-revival strategy is to target big spenders seeking privacy and social distancing in the Covid-19 era, rather than try to attract a large number of visitors.

The pandemic provides an opportunity to reset the sector, which had become reliant on Chinese groups and backpackers.

Once the country’s borders are reopened and so-called travel bubbles are agreed upon, marketing efforts will be geared toward wealthier individuals who want holidays with minimal risks, Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said in an interview.

Thailand’s first few travel-bubble pacts, with nations such as Japan and Australia, probably won’t be ready until at least August, Phiphat said. Thailand also is mulling a program to allow visitors from specific Chinese cities and provinces, he said.

Thailand’s borders are currently locked to all but essential travel through June 30. Most restrictions on domestic travel were lifted this month.

The government will initially allow a small number of arrivals, such as some business executives and medical tourists.

It is also working with the travel industry to identify and invite individuals in target demographics, which will probably include previous visitors to luxury resorts in the islands of Phuket, Samui, Phangan and Phi Phi, the minister said. Phuket is “a prototype” because it has all the needed facilities.

Visitors limited to a single island?

People may be required to pass Covid-19 screenings before traveling and upon arriving, choose a single resort island and remain for a minimum period of time.

The “high-end visitors” will be able to travel freely while they’re on the island and be allowed to leave for home or other destinations in Thailand once the minimum 14 days have passed. The country plans to court such visitors, possibly during the winter months of November-February when European and American travelers seek out warmer climates, Phiphat said.

“One person can easily spend as much as five by staying at the finest hotels,” he said, adding that full and free travel should become a “thing of the past.”

Thailand isn’t the only country grappling with the question of how and when to reopen for visitors. Across Southeast Asia – one of the most tourism-reliant regions in the world – hotels and travel businesses are slowly kicking into gear as countries that have succeeded in flattening their virus curves ease lockdown restrictions.

The goal is for Thailand to have 10 million foreign arrivals this year – one-quarter of the 2019 tally – Phiphat said. Total tourism revenue is forecast at 1.23 trillion baht (US$39.6 billion) this year, down 59% from last year.

The tourism sector will account for about 6% of gross domestic product in 2020, down from 18% last year, Phiphat said. The dearth of travelers is one reason Thailand’s economy is forecast to contract as much as 6% this year. The government is rolling out stimulus worth 15% of GDP, according to World Bank estimates.

After the lockdown, unlocking tourism

A lockdown, social distancing, tight control of borders and near-universal adoption of face masks enabled Thailand to restrict its official virus tally to just over 3,000, with 58 deaths.

The government has recently relaxed the lockdown and has detected no local transmission of the novel coronavirus for more than three weeks.

Phiphat said Thailand sees the crisis as an opportunity to address problems that existed before the pandemic, including over-crowding at some beaches and temples and environmental destruction.

In the quiet months without foreign travelers, sea turtles have returned to lay eggs on Thai beaches, pink dolphins have been seen frolicking with fishermen and manatees swam to shore to snack on sea grass, Phiphat said.

“If we don’t use this chance to create the most benefit for the industry, Thailand will lose out,” he said. “This is an opportunity to reset the entire tourism system."

This article is published under license from Bloomberg Media: the original article can be viewed here

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 527

Hopefully this travel bubble won't last too long. I'd like to see a return of freedom of movement into/out of Thailand and for that matter, the rest of the world as soon as possible. Realistically though, that's not happening until at least October and possibly not until 2021, if at all. But it's nice not to lose hope.

21 Dec 2016

Total posts 39

Japan as part of the duo-bubble? With among the lowest testing rates in the developed world?

Etihad - Etihad Guest

19 Jun 2019

Total posts 2

Don't get too excited. The mob in power flip flop on ever issue. The tourism minister is an embarrassment and achieves nothing.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 527

He's an embarrassment all right and so is the Health Minister Anutin, that being said, they will eventually open up. The country needs tourists and foreign investors. It will only stay closed as long as the rest of the region (and world) is, but once this pandemic is declared as over, Thailand will open up VERY quickly.

At least Thailand isn't demanding a US$3000 deposit for coronavirus quarantines of foreign visitors like Cambodia is. That country's leadership is arguably even more demented than Thailand's.

08 May 2020

Total posts 87

I have not cancelled my August Holidays in Phuket yet. I had that Booked on the 4th of January and has been a annual Holidays for the past 12 years. If I cancel the Flight with SIA it will cost me $540.00 but hopefully they will change that in early July. Of course would much rather have my Holiday in Phuket. Phuket has been Virus free since the 24th of May. getting tested to enable travel is no problem. But the problem will be that the Australian Government wont open the Gate even so I probably have more of a chance getting the Virus in Melbourne.


I have been waiting for my exemption to leave for over 8 weeks. During this period, I attempted reaching Home affairs, resubmitting, e-mailing for status update and calling almost every department I can think of. Finally, I got my approval. My port departure was for Sydney. Now, I wanted to leave from Melbourne because flights circumstances changed as well. I resubmitted another one to depart for Melbourne but never even got an answer.

Today, I have left Australia for urgent unavoidable personal/business reasons:

Here is what I can tell you and hopefully, this is helpful and I completely understand the stress you are going through:

1)You can apply for all in your family in one application

2)The departure port does not matter - I went ahead with the approval for Sydney from Melbourne

3) Check, call, email to as many places as possible

4) I still believe if your reasons are strong, you will get out

5) Please Ensure your email is correctly entered during the application because that's the only way they will communicate with you

6) Do not wait for weeks without following up - something might be wrong

7) go to airport early - there are still a lot of processes issues that Borderforce and airlines have not synced

Good luck and I hope, only people with genuine reasons apply for exemptions for the sake of people who have have humanitarian or compassionate needs.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

08 Jun 2014

Total posts 259

Where do I sign up? I need a trip to BKK!

Etihad - Etihad Guest

19 Mar 2018

Total posts 68

What you're seeing right before your very eyes, is the actual building blocks of what would become a schengen region that essentially gives them the rregional travel to domestic airlines.

Listen, COVID19 is going to take out half of the populaltions of UK, US, Mexico, Afrifca. Only 2 billion population combined, outsude Asia. UK and Ireland coastal cities are.... vulnerable. The Balkan states to0o. Spain may be lost entiely.y

By the wsay, all of uus in Singapore likely gotit in the morning Saturrday mist. If you felt dizzy , nauceous, congratualations join the herd. Moooo.

08 May 2020

Total posts 87

No that is all wrong. we have Google, Facebook, and many App-Medicines to fight this Virus.

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