11 July 2024

A group of leading tour operators and hoteliers in Thailand has launched a campaign to reopen the country on July 1, 2021.

They say vaccines are a game changer that allow for the reopening of the country and for quarantine requirements to be dropped.

Launched on March 2, the #OpenThailandSafely campaign is the initiative of leading Bangkok-based private sector travel companies YAANA Ventures, Minor Group and Asian Trails with the support of other major companies including Cape & Kantary Hotels, Diethelm Travel, Capella Hotels and Resorts, EXO and many others.

The campaign has laid out its arguments in a petition which will underpin a formal request to the government to respond favourably to the rollout of COVID-19 vaccination programmes underway in Europe, USA and other Thailand tourism source markets.

 The petition is open to anyone in Thailand or around the world at www.OpenThailandSafely.org .So far, there are 21 signatories to the campaign’s online letter, entitled ‘A call to reopen Thailand’. Big names in the inbound international tourism sector such as William Heinecke from Minor International and Willem Niemeijer of YAANA Ventures have signed the petition.

The campaigners argue that July 1 is an appropriate date for reopening the border because the majority of citizens in the US and Europe will have been vaccinated by then. It also gives time to Thai medical authorities to vaccinate both front line staff in hospitality settings in Thailand and/or vulnerable citizens around the country.

A resumption of tourism on that date means international travellers have enough time to make plans and bookings, and it also allows airlines, hotels, tour operators and others to start marketing and sales and get ready for tourism operations to resume.

If the borders do reopen on July 1, the campaigners expect thatThailand will take at least a year, probably longer, to return to the large numbers of international visitors that it enjoyed before the Covid-19 crisis.

To ensure the safe reopening of Thailand, the petition argues that “international tourists can be asked to satisfy any safeguards the Thai Government may require. This may, for example, include showing officially recognised proof of a Covid-19 vaccination from their home country, purchasing health insurance, showing evidence of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure, and so on.”

“The reopening on the 1st of July would be a strategic opportunity for Thailand to show a leadership role among Asian countries and prepare the way for a solid recovery of the Thai economy in 2022,” said YAANA Ventures’ CEO Willem Niemeijer.

The #OpenThailandSafely campaign will send the 1st July request to Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, the Minister of Tourism and Sports, Mr Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, and the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s governor Mr Yuthasak Supasorn.

Thailand tourism, pre-COVID, was worth about 2.9 trillion baht (about US$96.5 billion). Some 39.7 million international visitors in 2019 helped sustain up to 8.3 million jobs. However, arrivals fell to 6.7 million in 2020 making between two and four million people unemployed. The country has been closed to international leisure travellers since early 2020.

Meanwhile, destinations such as Seychelles, Maldives, Greece and Sri Lanka have either opened borders already or are in discussions to do so in light of successful COVID vaccine rollouts in their key source markets.