The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is moving quickly to draft strategy to support the Royal Thai Government’s third phase of easing business activities and restrictions after its most recent announcement on Monday, 1 June, which is effective immediately.
The relaxation helps some tourism-related businesses while other venue operators must wait and continue to follow guidelines issued by the Department of Health, Ministry of Public Health. Moreover, all international flights to Thailand are still banned until 30 June, 2020, due to the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT)’s announcement.
TAT Governor Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn said, “TAT is working actively with our tourism partners and other industry partners to monitor and identify opportunities. TAT has formulated a strategy to support domestic tourism first and learn from experience, so that Thai tourists feel confident about their first travel choices around the Kingdom after the situation of the COVID-19 eases.”
To begin with TAT has identified basic truths of the new reality moving forward: To restart, the tourism industry must be under disease control measures until a vaccine is developed to prevent this disease. This will affect and change all behaviour and patterns of traditional travel and tourism activities starting from the aviation experience.
The Thai tourism industry has proved incredibly resilient over the years surviving countless negative experiences, but this time is the different because it is not only a domestic event, it is worldwide affecting valuable inbound international tourist markets.
Everything has to change to survive, and that is contingent on highly effective and adaptable disease control measures. Tourists must be provided every assistance, so they can protect themselves and also help protect others by preventing the spread of the virus to others.
Only the strongest will travel as tourists focus more on their health and safety. This means Gen Y or Millennials are expected to be the first to come back during any recovery period. Services must be adjusted to serve this group; who are self-assured, have high standards, expect new innovations to combat the health situation, and are concerned for family and friends once back home.
The so-call ‘new normal’ for Thai tourism focusses on less travelling, smaller gatherings, avoiding crowds and touching during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. New changes in Thai tourism are as follows:
All markets, both mainstream and niche markets, will be evaluated for opportunities. However, Thailand’s tourism industry is highly dependent on international arrivals and ultimately it will be consumers who decided if and when they feel comfortable enough to travel overseas.
On the operational level, products and services will all be adapted and with the number of potential clients greatly reduced.
PHASE TWO and THREE
This begins once operational level products are functioning and a proper reduced carrying capacity is established so phase two can commence after international flights are allowed again. The ‘new normal’ of tourism will be promoted on the basis of safety and hygiene by:
International tourists coming to Thailand should not travel from or have lived in ongoing local transmission areas. They should not have a history of being in close contact with any probable or confirmed cases. A medical certificate is also required to be presented. There are restrictions on travelling abroad for Thai people due to the inbound and outbound limitation measures of Thailand and other countries around the world.
Promoting tourism in each province and to neighbouring provinces or provinces with no reported cases in the form of neighbour tourism. Promoting a revisiting campaign with cultural activities, activities for health, and the beauty of natural attractions. The number of tourists has to be limited to avoid congestion.
Once arriving in Thailand, tourists are required to undergo the COVID-19 rapid test screening process for reconfirmation, and then depart for a sealed area without making any stops.
While staying in Thailand, tourists are required to install and use a tracking application on their smartphone for the safety and protection of travelling in and out of sealed areas.
Open the cities and country for sustainability by first stimulating domestic tourism that is safe for health and with continuous quality services. Focus on high-end international tourists with the image of Thailand as a world-class health tourism destination.
The TAT Governor said, “Encouraging international tourists to travel to Thailand must be affordable by subsidising hotels and tour operators, so that they in turn can reduce the price of tickets for transportation and accommodation for international tourists and fuel a sustainable, long-term recovery.”
Other measures include but are not limited to buying COVID-19 insurance to boost confidence among international tourists.
Support the provision of money incentives to airlines and tour operators to use in public relations or conducting tourism marketing. The incentives can be also used with influencers to promote tourism traffic into and in Thailand.
Collect tax from outbound Thai tourists to enhance domestic tourism while also exempting the visa application fee at embassies or consulates, including visa-on-arrival application fee, and set a compensation budget for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Immigration Bureau. Extend the night-time curfew in areas with international tourists to stimulate the night-time economy.
Through marketing communications and creating positive feelings among the tourism industry while reducing xenophobia after reopening the country, spread goodwill with projects like ‘Welcome Superheroes to Thailand’ for medical personnel around the world and avoid activities, which might lead to the recurrence of the COVID-19 transmission.
THE BEST: The New Normal of Thai Tourism – Tourism Driven under the Supervision of Public Health.
Booking (in advance): Best practices would mean advanced bookings will be required. Travel plans will become a necessity, including the number of people, date, time, and expenses, which will need to be calculated beforehand ulnder the restriction of numbers and social distancing conditions.
Environmental (enthusiasts): Participate in promoting responsible tourism for society and the environment to help manage the quality of the environment and solve problems caused by tourism; such as, waste and pollution, so as to conserve and heal the recovering environment.
Safety (comes first): Tourists will pay more attention to safety in order to protect themselves and prevent the spread of the virus to others.
Technology (enhanced tourist experiences): Digital technology will include Mobile Track and Trace: a tracking system, which verifies and tracks each individual and/or devices in real time, whereby digital technology becomes a tourism necessity.