News

Thailand opens its doors to Australian tourists once again

Tourists began arriving in Thailand yesterday as the country began the reopening of its borders to vaccinated travellers.

Thailand is allowing travel from 60 “low-risk” countries including Australia, in an attempt to restart their tourism industry. The move timed perfectly with the reopening of Australia’s borders, allowing quarantine-free entry and exit to vaccinated Australians.

The country still faces widespread restrictions as the population is only 44% vaccinated, though destinations like Phuket have higher rates of vaccination.

Image: Westport News

Thailand predicts that tourist numbers could jump to as much as 15 million next year, bringing in a much needed $30 billion into a devastated industry. Normally Thailand sees roughly 40 million tourists each year, though COVID-19 saw those numbers drop by 80%.

It’s like seeing a very dim light at the end of the tunnel – we haven’t been able to work in two years,” tour guide Chaiyagorn Boonyapak told the BBC

Boonyapak went on to say, “We don’t know if [the government] can really open the country smoothly but I hope they can do it. We would very much love to get back to work again.

Before the pandemic, Chinese tourists were the largest visitor group with 12 million visitors arriving in 2019. The Thai government is hopeful that the industry will recover to pre-pandemic levels by 2023, but others are hesitant about the reopening.

Image: Euronews

Restauranteurs, hostel managers, and tour operators have expressed concerns that the reopening may be too rushed and cause further disruptions to life.

We fear that after we let the tourists in and the new COVID-19 cases spike again, will we go into another lockdown? I’m not so confident about the situation,” Wiwan Siriwasaeree, owner of a small hostel in Bangkok, told the BBC.

As more destinations begin to open, check out the Australian government’s Smarttraveller to stay up to date on all things travel advice.