Thailand ‘devastated’ by red list status

The Thai tourist board says it is “devastated” by the country’s addition to the UK government’s red list yesterday, meaning arrivals from Thailand face hotel quarantine.

Thailand reopened to international visitors from July 1, initially in just Phuket, and has welcomed 24,500 tourists since. In that time, the UK has been Thailand’s second largest source market, accounting for 3,186 arrivals, with only 74 ‘imported’ cases reported.

Samui, Ko Pha-ngan and Ko Tao are open to international travellers and Krabi, Ko Phi Phi, Khao Lak, Ko Yao have recently been added as an extension to the country’s ‘Sandbox’ initiative, intended to boost tourism.

The Phuket Sandbox initiative is expected to generate US$325 million by the end of the year.

The UK market was expected to generate up to 20% of that, but the Tourism Authority of Thailand says its impact is now “compromised”.

Khun Chiravadee Khunsub, UK & Ireland director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, said: “Thailand’s move to the red list is devastating news for Thailand and its tourism industry.

“It is incredibly frustrating for Thailand to change to red at this point when things were just getting started, and so safely.

She added: “While some parts of Thailand are experiencing an increase in case rates, numbers are low in the destinations that are open to tourists. For example, Phuket has just 3,000 cases which makes yesterday’s announcement of a blanket travel ban to Thailand even more frustrating.

“Thailand’s economy depends heavily on tourism and forward bookings were looking strong with some hotels reporting being fully-booked.

“Ahead of Thailand’s peak travel season I hope this latest change won’t knock consumer confidence when considering Thailand as a winter sun destination because, as we’ve seen with other destinations over the last few months, it will be back on amber or green in a matter of time again.

“My hope is that this change is short lived and business to Thailand will pick up again, as quickly as it has to date, and our industry partners will see an increase in demand and sales again.

“In the meantime, we will have to continue to be flexible with our marketing plans and support the travel trade with updates, information and training so they can manage their customers’ expectations as best as possible as travel chaos continues.”

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