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WHAT NEXT? THAI TOURISM AT A CROSSROADS

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tourism– The Covid-19 pandemic is having a significant effect on the tourism industry worldwide, with the lives and businesses of millions around the world being influenced by this unprecedented crisis. However, some countries are struggling more than others, mainly because their economy relies heavily on the tourism sector. One of these countries is also Thailand, which has seen a drastic drop in visitors in the last couple of months.

Sharp Increase in Searches

However, there are some indications that better times are ahead for Thai tourism. According to Airbnb, there has been a sharp increase in searches for stays in Thailand in recent weeks since the announcement of the country’s reopening for fully vaccinated visitors from 63 countries.

The well-known rental platform elaborates that searches from international customers for stays in Thailand in the next six months have more than doubled compared to a year ago, based on the data from the penultimate week of October.

Phuket Most Popular, US Tourists Most Keen

According to the data, the popular island Phuket remains the country’s top destination for international customers, along with Bangkok, Koh Samu, Pattaya and Chiang Mai.

The top 10 countries of search origin are the USA, Russia, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, South Korea, Australia, Canada, Sweden, and Switzerland.

New Standard of Thai Tourism

In the context of this reopening, Thailand’s Prime Minister announced the introduction of a “new standard of tourism”.

In response to this new vision, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has launched a new campaign called “Amazing Thailand, Amazing New Chapters” to promote the sector next year, with emphasis on the new normal, health and safety.

In this campaign, authorities have called for a diversification of the targeted audience, suggesting that both nearby markets such as ASEAN countries, as well as long-haul markets such as the USA, Europe and Russia, should be targeted.

Moreover, the Thai government aims to create a sector with an emphasis on quality rather than quantity, thus shifting the focus of the Thai tourism sector radically. In other words, the idea is to attract a smaller number of wealthy tourists instead of millions of “low-quality” ones. However, not everyone is thrilled by this new strategy.

In fact, most of the stakeholders in the sector are against such a policy. According to their estimates, focusing on high-class tourists may bring money to luxury hotels, but it will not benefit most of the industry as well as the “average Thai citizen”.

Thus, it remains to be seen how Thai tourism will develop in the future, but what is certain is that the government will have to find a common speech with the stakeholders to return the country back among the top destinations worldwide.

Tourism

TOURIST DESTINATIONS IN ASIA AND PACIFIC ARE OPENING THEIR BORDERS

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tourism– Gradually more and more tourist destinations in Asia announced opening their borders to international visitors. Various restrictions however are still in effect.

Australia

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the continent had strictly sealed itself off and announced that it would reopen its borders to international tourism on Christmas 2021. The date has now been postponed until early 2022. Only fully vaccinated vacationers will be allowed to enter the country. What will be possible again from December 1, however, are the popular “working holidays,” in which travelers combine work in Australia with a vacation. For this purpose, one needs a “Working Holiday Maker Visa” (subclass 417) or a “Work and Holiday Visa” (subclass 462), must be fully vaccinated, register online and present a negative PCR test not older than 72 hours.

Bali

The vacation island of Bali, Indonesia, reopened to international tourism in October. The quarantine after arrival has been reduced from five to three days for fully vaccinated travelers. In addition, proof of health insurance is required. So far, vacationers are only allowed to travel to Bali and the Riau Islands; all other regions of the Southeast Asian country are not yet open to international tourism.

Cambodia

Cambodia plans to gradually ramp up tourism again since November. Fully vaccinated travelers will be spared quarantine, but they must present a negative PCR test no more than 72 hours old, complete a rapid test immediately upon arrival, and provide proof of health insurance. After that, they are allowed to travel throughout the country. Those who cannot provide proof of vaccination must take a PCR test upon arrival and enter a 14-day quarantine.

India

As of October 15, India has reopened to vacationers from abroad. The tourist visas will be reissued with immediate effect, but initially only for travelers on charter flights. From November 15, this regulation was extended to all other flights. According to initial information, a negative PCR test will be presented upon entry. Travelers will also have to register on the Air Suvidha online portal before starting their journey and upload the negative PCR test here as well. Upon entry, passengers from Europe must take another PCR test at the airport for a fee (currently costs around 6 euros) and download the app Aarogya Setu.

Malaysia

By January 1 at the latest, Malaysia plans to launch a pilot project that will allow fully vaccinated tourists from abroad to travel to the island of Langkawi. A list of countries from which quarantine-free entry is allowed upon presentation of a certificate of vaccination, a negative PCR test not older than 72 hours, and proof of health insurance is to be presented soon. A minimum stay on Langkawi of three days is required.

Mauritius

Since October 1, fully vaccinated vacationers can enter Mauritius quarantine-free. All they have to do is present a negative PCR test not older than 72 hours and take another one upon arrival at the airport. On the fifth day of stay, an antigen test must be taken at the hotel or a self-test available at a pharmacy. Unvaccinated persons over the age of 18 must undergo a 14-day quarantine. Bars and clubs in the island nation are currently closed, no events are taking place, and proof of vaccination is required to enter restaurants.

Nepal

Those who are fully vaccinated will again be issued visas upon arrival at Kathmandu Airport. Additionally, one needs a negative PCR test not older than 72 hours, confirmation of lodging, and registration, which must be carried out in the printed form. Unvaccinated people have to apply for their visas at the responsible representative authority of Nepal. In addition to the test and registration, they must undergo a ten-day hotel quarantine.

Philippines

The Southeast Asian island nation plans to reopen its borders to international tourism soon – but only to fully vaccinated vacationers from “green” countries with high vaccination rates and low infection rates. There are currently 43 countries and territories on the list, including China, Taiwan, Japan, Pakistan, Rwanda, and the Falkland Islands. European countries are not included yet. The Philippines, known for magnificent landscapes, volcanoes and dream beaches, has closed its borders to international vacationers since March 2020.

Sri Lanka

The island nation in the Indian Ocean will join the tourist destinations in Asia that allow tourists to enter the country who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus for at least two weeks and present a negative PCR test that is not more than 72 hours old. Those who had a corona infection within the last three months prior to entry will only need a negative antigen test that is a maximum of 48 hours old as a recovered person. Upon arrival, foreign visitors are then allowed to move freely. Individuals who are not fully immunized against Covid-19 must register online, need a negative PCR test at the time of entry, and must take another one upon arrival. Afterwards, they are only allowed to move around the so-called “Safe & Secure Certified Level 1 Hotels” or visit selected sights. On the twelfth day of the stay, another test must be performed. If the test is negative, visitors are allowed to move freely around the country from the 14th day onwards.

Thailand

Fully vaccinated travelers from all over the world have been able to book vacations with special travel programs in the Thai vacation paradise of Phuket or Ko Samui for some time. After a week, they can also travel to other regions of Thailand. Since November, Thailand is open for fully vaccinated air travelers from 63 countries with low Corona risk. So far, only ten countries were on the list. Travelers must present a negative PCR test upon entry and complete another one upon arrival. Once the result is available, they can travel without quarantine to 17 places open to tourism so far, including Phuket Island, the capital of Bangkok and Chiang Mai in the north of the country. Before entering the country, one must apply online for the “Thailand Passport”. The opening of nightclubs, pubs and karaoke bars, originally scheduled for early December, has been postponed until at least mid-January. Alcohol may currently only be served in restaurants in the capital Bangkok, the provinces of Krabi and Phangnga, and on the resort island of Phuket.

Vietnam

Depending on the vaccination rate in the country, Vietnam wants to open up to international tourism again. To this end, a four-step plan has been presented, the first step of which is to open selected destinations to vacationers arriving on charter flights towards the end of the year. These include the island of Phu Quoc and the coastal cities of Da Nang and Khanh Hoa. For this purpose, a list of countries will be presented whose fully vaccinated nationals will be allowed to enter. A limited number of scheduled flights are to be allowed again from January 2022. As things stand, however, travelers must expect to be quarantined upon arrival. There are no plans to allow entry for convalescents or unvaccinated travelers.

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Tourism

HOTEL PRICES EXPECTED TO RISE SIGNIFICANTLY WORLDWIDE

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tourism- Travel and hotel stays will become more expensive worldwide over the next two years. This is one of the conclusions of the seventh annual Global Business Travel Forecast, released by CWT and the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). The report sees rising demand, capacity constraints and travelers’ sustainability demand, as well as higher labor and energy costs, as the main reasons for rising prices, including the hotel prices.

The upturn in business travel is in full swing, says Michelle McKinney Frymire, CEO of CWT. This comes after a 31% drop in airfares for business travel, for example. Experts expect airfares to rise 3.3% in 2022 and 3.4% in 2023, according to the report.

The increase in global hotel prices is expected to be even stronger, with a price increase of 13% in 2022 and a further 10% in 2023. Nevertheless, it will still take some time in many markets before the 2019 level is reached again.

CWT Meetings & Events expects the majority of immediate meeting bookings to be small and regional in nature. Virtual and hybrid meetings played a critical role in 2021. The size of live meetings decreased in 2021 from an average of 42 attendees per meeting in 2019 and 2020 to an average of 24 attendees.

Many companies currently appear to be opting for smaller regional meetings rather than events that involve travel. However, as restrictions are lifted and pent-up demand leads to more people traveling to meetings, this is expected to change in 2022, the report said. Demand for meetings and events, it predicts, will increase 53% in the first half of 2022 compared to 2021

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Tourism

TRAVEL IN EUROPE TO RETURN TO PRE-PANDEMIC LEVELS IN 2024

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tourism– Although travel demand in Europe has revived since last summer after the chaos of the pandemic, there is still “a long way to go” to achieve similar activity levels to those prior to the pandemic. This is the main conclusion of the report of the third quarter of 2021 on ‘Trends and prospects for European tourism’ issued by the European Travel Commission (ETC), which warns that the travel volumes of 2019 will not be achieved until 2024.

Europe currently has the best travel numbers in the world thanks to having the highest vaccination rate of all continents, but this is not enough as long-distance travel have not yet recovered.

The ETC points out that European destinations already enjoyed a better-than-expected summer season thanks to the success of vaccination programmes. In addition, the creation of the European Union’s digital COVID certificate has been crucial for ensuring safe travel in Europe within the EU and helped to simplify cross-border mobility.

As a result, intra-EU travel recorded an increase and is expected to account for 85% of European international arrivals in 2021, 8% more than in 2019.

The recovery has differed between destinations. The countries that reopened their borders earlier to vaccinated travelers were the most favored in terms of travel.

As the first country to reopen to non-COVID tourists was Greece, it recorded the strongest rebound in overnight stays, although it ended up falling 19% in August when compared to 2019 and foreign arrivals were very weak (-66.6%).

Spain ended the summer with a 77% drop in international overnight stays compared to 2019, while international arrivals plummeted by 88.7%.

The situation in the Czech Republic was worse (-94%), the country experienced the steepest drop due to the strict anti-COVID measures put in place by the authorities throughout the year.

No Long-haul Travelers

Although travel in Europe has gained terrain in 2021, there is still a long way to go as international tourist arrivals to Europe were still down 77% mid-year compared to 2019.

For the ETC, the slower vaccination rate in Eastern Europe and in some large, long distance source markets could delay the recovery.

The report also notes a notable absence of long-haul travelers. Arrivals from the US to Europe remained 90% below their 2019 levels on a third of European destinations.

The absence of Chinese tourists was also “painfully” felt across Europe with all countries recording drops of more than 90% compared to 2019.

Thus, the report forecasts that international tourist arrivals to Europe will be 60% less than in 2019 by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, many threats to travel remain: ever-changing restrictions, outbreaks, confusion over the color-coded EU travel system that is applied differently in European destinations and the adoption of different systems for accepting vaccinations.

The president of the ETC, Luís Araújo, has pointed out the importance of vaccination to recover international mobility, but calls for more measures.

“As the winter months approach, it is imperative that Europe strives to further restore freedom of movement by implementing more consistent approaches to travel within and outside the EU,” he emphasized.

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