With borders being closed to leisure travellers for over a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Thailand is now facing a growing need to attract foreign tourists once the country reopens its borders. Thailand’s tourism industry contributed to one-fifth of the nation’s economy in pre-pandemic times.
From July 1, the popular island of Phuket will welcome fully vaccinated foreign travellers, quarantine-free. Phuket is set to open to foreigners three months before the rest of the country.
A attractive campaign, One-night, one-dollar, has been proposed by the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) to entice international tourists to visit Phuket, ahead of the popular resort island’s planned July reopening. Participating operators under this scheme will offer room rates to foreign tourists at US$1 per night – for rooms that usually sell for between 1,000 baht (US$32) and 3,000 baht per night. President Chamnan Srisawat of the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) said the costs to be subsidised by the Thai government.
Tourism operators are set to roll out the campaign to international markets once and if the proposal is accepted. Srisawat said, “TCT also discussed the idea with major wholesalers and online travel agents to prepare for the reopening of Phuket. And they are ready to help.”
He expects almost one million room nights to be up for sales from a total of 70,000 rooms on the island. This would generate at least 40 billion Thai baht into hotels and other services in July.
TCT’s proposal has already been submitted to the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Ministry of Tourism and Sports. It will be further escalated to the cabinet for approval next month.
If Phuket’s One-night, one-dollar campaign is successful, the campaign may be expanded by private sector organisations and the government to other destinations in Thailand such as Koh Samui, Pattaya and Bangkok.
Srisawat said, “However, the current wave of Covid-19 infection could (impact the) final decision. But we have been suffering from the pandemic for 15 months now. Only mass tourism will save us.”
Phuket is preparing itself to be the first Thai city to reopen to vaccinated foreign travellers and is expecting to see a foot-fall of about 500,000 visitors through year-end. This is much lower than the 6.7 million visitors in 2020, with most arrivals during the first quarter.
Before the onset of the pandemic, in 2019, Thailand welcomed nearly 40 million visitors, generating a revenue of 190 billion Thai baht (US$60 billion).