Thailand’s UK director of tourism Chiravadee Khunsub says its move to the UK’s red travel list from Monday is devastating news for the country’s tourism industry.
But she said she’s hopeful the change will be short-lived and Thailand will quickly return to amber or even green.
Thailand’s move to the red list means returning holidaymakers will have to pay up to £2,250 per person to quarantine for 10 days in a Government-approved hotel from 4am on Monday 30 August.
It comes just two months after the country began gradually reopening to international tourists, starting with the resort of Phuket in July and more recently adding Samui, Ko Pha-ngan, Ko Tao, Krabi, Ko Phi Phi, Khoa Lak and Ko Yao to its ‘sandbox’ scheme.
Since July, it has received over 24,500 visitors, with only 74 imported COVID cases, he said.
The UK is Thailand’s second biggest source market and accounted for just over 3,000 of its visitors over the summer.
“It is incredibly frustrating for Thailand to change to red at this point when things were just getting started, and so safely,” said Ms Khunsub.
Already, Phuket has generated over $36.7m in revenue since it reopened, with $325m projected by the end of the year, she said.
The UK market was expected to contribute 20%.
“However, this is now compromised after yesterday’s change to the red list and stopping travel to Thailand,” she added.
Ms Khunsub conceded that some parts of Thailand are experiencing a rise in COVID rates, but she said numbers are low in the popular tourist destinations. “For example, Phuket has just 3,000 cases which makes yesterday’s announcement of a blanket travel ban to Thailand even more frustrating,” she said.
“Thailand’s economy depends heavily on tourism and forward bookings were looking strong with some hotels reporting being fully booked.
“Ahead of Thailand’s peak travel season I hope this latest change won’t knock consumer confidence when considering Thailand as a winter sun destination because, as we’ve seen with other destinations over the last few months, it will be back on amber or green in a matter of time again.
“My hope is that this change is short lived and business to Thailand will pick up again, as quickly as it has to date, and our industry partners will see an increase in demand and sales again.
“In the meantime, we will have to continue to be flexible with our marketing plans and support the travel trade with updates, information and training so they can manage their customers’ expectations as best as possible as travel chaos continues.”