Hello, paradise!

Published May 5, 2022, 6:00 PM

by Manila Bulletin

Thailand just lifted its RT-PCR requirement on May 1; launches the ‘Visit Thailand Year 2022: Amazing New Chapters’

Koh Phi Phi Islands

The RT-PCR testing requirement for fully vaccinated tourists traveling to Thailand is no longer required, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) deputy governor for International Marketing Tanes Petsuwan announced in a press conference held at Conrad Manila.

Starting last May 1, tourists are only required to undergo voluntary rapid antigen testing and to register for a Thailand Pass, which, according to Petsuwan, will also be lifted in two months.

Prepandemic and new normal Thai tourism

“It’s not only the time to reopen the country, it’s time to reopen the world,” Petsuwan says.

Thailand launches the ‘Visit Thailand Year 2022: Amazing New Chapters’ campaign and it invites Filipinos to be part of this tourism reborn.

Wat Saket Ratcha Wora Maha Wihan Temples

Before the pandemic, in 2019, the country welcomed around 40 million international tourists, and around 500,000 of them are Filipinos. While Thailand captured a small percentage of Filipino arrivals in the country, they consider the Philippines as an “important market” as it grows every year.

He cites that the country’s tourism comprises 20 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), that’s why the 80 percent tourist decline in the past two years was a big blow to their economy.

Aiming to get back on its feet, Thailand slowly opened its doors to tourists with the “Test and Go” and “Sandbox” campaigns that allowed vaccinated travelers to enter the country without quarantine—only RT-PCR tests on their first and fifth day in the country. According to Petsuwan, however, it didn’t help much to drive tourists to the country due to the time restriction.

Railay Beach Krabi

That’s when they eased restrictions in November 2021 and were able to welcome around one million tourists.

Thailand once again announces its opening with the “Amazing New Chapter” campaign that targets to draw 10 million tourists at the end of the year.

Thailand considers the Philippines an ‘important market,’ as it grows every year.

What to look forward to

Temple of Dawn

With the Tourism Authority of Thailand revitalizing and transforming Thai tourism, they came up with a variety of new segments and gimmicks to offer to tourists, including Filipinos.

The first “gimmick” that the deputy governor cited is the “new segments,” such as the “workation” or “bleisure”—a portmanteau for “work and vacation” and “business and leisure.” This targets the Millennials or what Petsuwan called the “digital nomads,” who are working while traveling. Bangkok, Phuket, and Chiang Mai are among the places he mentioned that are ideal for this type of traveling because of their new coworking spaces.

The deputy speaker believes that this is suitable for Filipinos as they enjoy traveling with their family and, at the same time, working.

The Amazing New Chapters also highlights Thailand’s “new areas” or the new places tourists can go to aside from the usual ones. Among them is Chiang Rai, which is the city next to Chiang Mai, where tourists can appreciate beaches, mountains, and lush greeneries.

Kaeng Tana National Park Tat Ton Waterfall

“New infrastructure” is another one tourists can look forward to, according to the deputy speaker. Some of these are the new transport routes, especially the high-speed rail linking Kunming and Lao PDR., which can connect to Thailand’s Nong Khai Province.

Lastly, they will also promote the “new way,” which will focus on responsible tourism to inspire travelers and let them experience traveling in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way. The “new way” aims to give back to the local community too.

Aside from the new chapters mentioned, Thai tourism has also strengthened its strategies to gain travelers’ confidence concerning safety and hygiene.

They have established the Safety and Health Administration (SHA) project, which is a result of the cooperation between the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Ministry of Public Health, and other relevant sectors.

Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan

The future of Thai tourism

Global tourism may not be the same after the pandemic, but Thailand is ready to reshape and develop the future of its tourism. “We continue our efforts to shift to promote quality over quantity along with responsible tourism,” says Petsuwan.

They have geared their strategies to tap into different niche markets such as weddings and honeymoons, sports tourism, health and wellness, gastronomy, and green tourism.

“We believe travel will bounce back sooner or later,” he says.

—Jean Gerard Enriquez