Welcoming the New Normal Era of Thai Tourism, TAT Reveals Three Phase Strategy Alongside Best Guideline
Supporting the Royal Thai Government of easing lockdown measures, TAT shares three-phase strategy and BEST practices for hospitality workers and tourists
Thai tourism braces for the new normal following the Royal Thai Government’s third phase of easing the lockdown at the start of this week. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has also geared up to draft an effective and efficient strategy to support this initiative. The relaxation will surely help to lift the economy, especially the tourism and hospitality businesses. Based on Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT)’s announcement, all international flights to Thailand are still banned until the end of June, so this initiative will mostly support the local tourism for the time being.
TAT Governor Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn said, “TAT is working actively with our tourism partners and other industry partners to monitor and identify opportunities. TAT has formulated a strategy to support domestic tourism first and learn from experience, so that Thai tourists feel confident about their first travel choices around the Kingdom after the situation of the COVID-19 eases.” Restarting the tourism industry will be accompanied with new reality, which is a strict disease control measures until a vaccine has been successfully developed to curb this disease. All behaviour and patterns of traditional travel and tourism activities worldwide, especially the aviation industry, will have to adjust to the new normal.
Change is the key to survive, and we have to be able to develop a highly effective and adaptable disease control measures. Tourists must be provided every assistance, so they can protect themselves and also help protect others by preventing the spread of the virus to others. The tourism and hospitality industry will put a highlight on health and safety, and once tourism restarts, the Gen Y and Z or millennials are mostly expected to be the first to fly out in the recovery period. Services must be adjusted to serve this target market, who are self-assured, have high standards, expect new innovations to combat the health situation, and are concerned for family and friends once back home.
In phase one, the Thai tourism will also focus on less travelling, smaller gatherings, avoiding crowds and touching. There will be evaluation of opportunities in both mainstream and niche markets. On the operational level, there will be adaptation of products and services, as well as the anticipation of the number of potential clients which can be greatly reduced.
In the phase two, once the operational-level products have been functioning well and a proper reduced carrying capacity is established, the phase two starts once international flights ban are lifted. The new normal of tourism will be promoted on the basis of safety and hygiene, with a number of protocols.
Firstly, international tourists coming to Thailand must carry a legitimate medical certificate. Once arriving in Thailand, tourists are required to undergo the COVID-19 rapid test screening process for reconfirmation, and then depart for a sealed area without making any stops. While staying in Thailand, tourists are required to install and use a tracking application on their smartphone for the safety and protection of travelling in and out of sealed areas. Although optional, tourists are recommended to purchase COVID-19 insurance as a prevention and to boost travel confidence.
Secondly, TAT will promote tourism in safe provinces with no reported cases, with focused campaigns on cultural activities, health, and natural landmarks. The number of tourists will be limited. In the phase three, Thailand will support sustainable tourism by stimulating domestic tourism which is safe for health and with continuous quality services. For high-end international tourists, Thailand will focus on rebuilding the image as a world-class health tourism destination, such as plastic surgery. The government will support the provision of money incentives to airlines and tour operators for the use of tourism marketing and public relations. These incentives can also be used to promote tourism through travel bloggers and influencers.
To enhance domestic tourism, the government might collect tax from outbound Thai tourists, while at the same time also exempting the visa application fee at embassies or consulates, including visa-on-arrival application fee. If the situation is already safe, there is a possibility to extend the night-time curfew in certain areas with international tourists. With a well-planned marketing campaign and fostering positive vibes among the tourism industry, the government also spreads goodwill with campaigns such as “Welcome Superheroes to Thailand” aimed at medical personnel around the world.
The TAT Governor adds, “Encouraging international tourists to travel to Thailand must be affordable by subsidising hotels and tour operators, so that they in turn can reduce the price of tickets for transportation and accommodation for international tourists and fuel a sustainable, long-term recovery.” The BEST practices or tourism driven under the supervision of public health include:
- Booking (in advance): travel planning and advance bookings will be required.
- Environmental (enthusiasts): participate in promoting responsible tourism to conserve and heal the environment.
- Safety (comes first): tourists will pay more attention to safety in order to protect themselves and prevent the spread of the virus to others.
- Technology (enhanced tourist experiences): use of digital technology to create confidence among tourists by giving them convenience, safety and accurate information while travelling. Applications include: Mobile Track and Trace, Recognition, Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Smart Travel Assistant.