Updated: Mar 16
The popular travel destination that has aced its virus response
In mid-October the government of Thailand decided to allow visitors from all countries to enter Thailand using a tourist visa with a slick application process. The uptake was swift with over 3,000 visitors arriving over the next four weeks.
One element remained, however. That element was the necessity for a 15-night Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) on arrival in Thailand, with the mindset being to treat everybody as if they have Coronavirus. Quarantine, or ASQ, became a part of the entry requirement.
It turned out that this quarantine was, and still is, a vital part of the tremendous success in controlling the spread of the virus. Almost daily, new cases are detected within arrivals who are in ASQ. Had they not been, Thailand could well be in a far more difficult situation than now.
For our recommended DMC partner in Thailand, Trunk Travel, the new government guidelines were welcomed. Trunk was one of the first inbound tour operator to exceed the guidelines and proudly display the badge of recognition. They have their our own strict operating procedures that are designed to give clients the necessary peace of mind to relax and enjoy the journey without fear. In fact they are already putting these guidelines into practice, with tourists already returning, keen to experience their unique, ethical adventures. Find out more about Trunk Travel here.
So how has Thailand managed to contain the spread of COVID-19 so effectively?
Firstly, and with the ability of 20/20 hindsight, through common sense and quick, effective action and reaction.
Having managed a potentially similar outbreak with the SARS virus back in 2002, most countries in SouthEast Asia had formulated plans to stem the spread. The first, and potentially most pivotal decision, was to close the borders to all outside visitors with immediate effect.
Repatriated Thai's returning from every country were immediately told that they must quarantine in state run facilities on arrival. Every individual was tested for Covid-19 twice during this 14-days period of isolation. Many new cases were discovered that had a massive impact on the spread of the disease.
Additionally, extreme measures were put in place nationwide to reduce the possibility of any person unknowingly spreading the virus. And as face-masks are relatively common place in Asia anyway, the jump to everybody wearing masks was not too extreme.
Why is it so important for tourism to return to Thailand?
In 2019 tourism contributed 1.93 trillion Baht (over $43.3 billion) to the Thai economy
In 2019 tourist arrival numbers from to almost 40 million, a rise of over 1.6 million from 2018
Tourist receipts account for about 12% of Southeast Asia's second-largest economy, making it one of the most important drivers of growth for an economy that has lagged most regional peers for years
In the first quarter of 2020, tourism accounted for around 12.2 percent of Thailand's total employment
In the first quarter of 2020, tourism contributed 5.65 to the country's GDP.
Source: Bangkok Post January 2020 & statista.com
How are Covid-19 numbers in Thailand?
Compared to countries of a similar population (2019 - 66.56 million), Thailand has handled the spread of Coronavirus incredibly effectively.
Prior to the recent super-spreader event, that began on December 21st 2020, Thailand proudly showed-off numbers of fewer than 6,000 cases with deaths of a single digit.
Since the super-spreader event cases have increased but the number of new daily cases has halved in recent days. Out of the 77 provinces in Thailand, only 6 have reported new cases in the last 7 days.
Source: Corona V Stats as at 05 Mar 2021
How is Trunk Travel coping with managing the virus?
In order to be able to have any semblance of a tourism industry that is operational, in September the Tourism Authority of Thailand, in conjunction with the Ministry of Public Health, launched the Safety & Health Administration.
The purpose of this administration was to ensure that any business operating with the movement of people around the country met and exceeded the very strict guidelines set out to ensure that travellers were kept safe and free from the dangers of catching and spreading the virus.
Trunk was one of the first operators to exceed the guidelines and proudly display the badge of recognition. We have our own strict operating procedures that are designed to give clients the necessary peace of mind so that they can relax and enjoy the journey without fear.
So when will Thailand fully re-open for tourism?
In recent days, a government petition has been circulated in Thailand with an appeal to open the destination to vaccinated travellers (without quarantine) as early as July 2021.
In response, the prime minister of Thailand has ordered a survey in to the efficacy of the various vaccines to determine whether this could work. Governments and their departments can sometimes be slow (rightly so on such an important matter) so it’s unlikely that anything will happen quickly but, with the UK planning to have the vast majority of the population vaccinated before that date this could come as very welcome news to travel companies looking for long-haul destinations perceived as safe, trustworthy yet exciting and exotic at the time.
As a result, and subject to restrictions lifting, we are already preparing for a Fam Trip for tour operators in October 2021.
For more information about Trunk Travel, about our Fam Trip or about other destinations with a good record of handling the COVID-19 pandemic well, please contact us.
Blog update prepared by Steve Williams, Lucy Palmer and Mark Wright. 05 Mar 2021