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.