Has Thailand’s reopening plan failed?

Jongkolnee Rittiyong

Before the pandemic, Thailand was one of the Danes’ favorite holiday destinations outside Europe. Almost 170,000 Danes visited the country in 2019 alone but since the pandemic closed the country’s borders in March 2020 not many tourists have arrived and the country’s empty beaches are a testimonial to that. 

Following Thailand’s reopening plan however with its ‘Test and go’ quarantine free travel scheme launched in November, the hope was that the white tropical beaches would once again be flocked by tourists. But the fear of traveling far away from home together with the new variant Omicron which has seen Thailand suspend its “Test and go’ travel scheme might have ruined the country’s ambition for a painless reopening by 2022, DR News writes.

In the past, about 40 million tourists came to Thailand every year, but in the first 10 months of 2021, only 106,000 tourists took the trip. The lack of tourists is very clear in most parts of the country. Perhaps less in Phuket after the Phuket Sandbox entry scheme around Christmas time became the only option to enter the country without having to undergo seven to ten days in quarantine upon arrival, but nonetheless, major tourist areas like Hua Hin are still deserted. 

Kurt from Denmark has lived in Thailand for 22 years and owns a restaurant in Hua Hin. For him, it’s devastating to continue to see the major effect the lack of tourists has on a country that is so dependent on tourism and he does not see the reopening plan as a success. 

“It’s sad, it’s really sad,” he says. 

“I feel very sorry for the Thais. They are the ones who suffer the most from the lack of tourists.”

Kurt even doubts that Thailand will raise to the equally significant tourist destination seen before the worldwide crisis.

“So many places have closed and restrictions continue. It’s not like before, and it probably will not be,” he says. 

Jongkolnee Rittiyong is among the 20 percent of Thais who live off the revenue from tourism and she confirms that business is very low in every way.

“We have missed the peak season two years in a row now. There are very few foreign tourists. Most of my clients are local Hua Hin residents,” she says.

Time will tell if Thailand’s attempts to revive the tourism sector was short-lived. The future of Thailand’s ‘Test & Go’ scheme for air travelers were supposed to be announced on 4 January but will instead be the key issue discussed during a meeting today 7 January, officials said Wednesday. 

About Gregers Møller

Editor-in-Chief • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

View all posts by Gregers Møller

13 Comments on “Has Thailand’s reopening plan failed?”

  1. There are quite a few factual errors in this piece.

    For instance: “The lack of tourists is very clear in most parts of the country. Perhaps less in Phuket after the Phuket Sandbox entry scheme around Christmas time became the only option to enter the country without having to undergo seven to ten days in quarantine upon arrival…”

    You’re confusing Test & Go with Phuket Sandbox. Test & Go made travel possible for several destinations around the country, including Bangkok and Chiang Mai, without a quarantine period (if we don’t count the one-night quarantine while awaiting your test result). That scheme has now been suspended, so the only way for tourists to enter Thailand is once again to submit oneself to a 7-day quarantine in Phuket, after which you’ll have to stay within the Phuket Sandbox area.

    Then again, there are so many misinformed, oblivious, colonially-minded comments after the article, that factual errors pale in comparison. One thing though: the rest of the SE Asian countries had IN NO WAY surpassed Thailand in terms of tourist infrastructure and services, or as the no. 1 tourist destination in the region. That is an incomprehensibly misinformed hot take with no basis in reality whatsoever.

  2. Thailand is not an option anymore. Government made it to North Korea.
    As long as this Government is there, il be here .
    Thailand was a paradise. Today it’s a ruin.

  3. The reopening of Thailand FOR TOURISTS has failed and will inflict more stress on the economy and local business.
    However, on November 7th 2021 Bangkok Post reported that 3160 illegal immigrants were CAUGHT crossing the border in one week alone. How many did not get caught?
    Yet the total for 2021 according to Bangkok Post was “only” 42 600. Again how many did not get caught?
    What if they only caught 10% of the illegal immigrants? Then the number of unvaccinated illegals amounts to 426 000 or more than 4 times the number of tourists as 106 000 documented vaccinated tourists arrived during the first 10 months. So maybe around 125 000 total for 2021.


    Well it depends on what the objective is? Are there foreign interests that want to cripple and weaken the economy so they can step in longer term?

    Are the people “in control” taking orders from someone else with different political goals causing this erratic and lack of common sense direction of policy.

    Well on one point they were spot on with fast action against Covid as Thailand shut all international travel down a few days before China.

  4. It is wrong to think there was ever a plan. The so called government is making it up on an hourly basis and has absolutely no idea nor cares about the disruption and chaos it is causing in all walks of life. Trying to operate a tourism business is simply impossible with almost no revenue but increasingly onerous and expensive requirements. Omicron does not behave like other variants but the authorities are applying measures that do not take account of this. Over the next few months more businesses will do under so any tourist thinking of coming here needs to know they will be visiting a graveyard.

  5. With better tourism activities offered by countries like Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and Malaysia, Thailand had ling ago dropped off the popular to-go place. Sex sells but not everytime. People are more interested in quality leisure time in a stress free environment. Thailand scams and many such glitches have snatched the eager tourist away from this once popular destination. Even Maldives is 100% better than Thailand.

  6. I’m now in Khon Kaen Thailand I came from California under test and go. I am staying 60 days with my little thai girlfriend. I waited almost 2 years to return to Thailand because of this virus and probably have to wait another 2 years before the thai government realizes that closing down solves nothing. Embrace covid, the genie is out of the bottle, own it, America helped fund it.

  7. Just returned from Thailand after spending over 3 weeks there and never felt safer Thailand has got strict entry tests and ALL Thais where mask

  8. So sad,, I really wanted to go to Thailand.
    I guess that I wait and see.
    Bless Thailand. The 🙏

  9. Sadly the numbers of tourists who come to Thailand are treated with distain. Dirty falang they call us. We want to come but the Thai government can’t make up their minds want to do . We travel with everything that the Thai government wants then they changed their mind Every 2 minutes . We need some sort of certainly before booking

  10. You deserve it! Gave you guys viruses!! lol

    Why? Because ya people always wanna trick tourists and rip us off!! I don’t care ya don’t make any $$$$ and broke! Do better next time!

    Then you know your government cannot do shit. So do better when they come. Be more frendly and respectful to foreigners and tourists!!!

  11. thailand goverment has made it very hard for people to come hoilday in Thailand so much paper work some people just can’t do it

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