Thailand isn’t expecting overseas tourists to return until October at the earliest, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
TAT governor Yutasak Supasorn told CNN Travel that even then there will likely be restrictions on who can visit and where they can go.
A spokeman for the TAT in London said the governor was expecting a positive return to tourism from the fourth quarter of the year, but he told CNN: “It is still dependent on the outbreak situation, but I think at the earliest, we may see the return of tourists could be the fourth quarter of this year.
“We are not going to open all at once. We are still on high alert, we just can’t let our guards down yet. We have to look at the country of origin [of the travellers] to see if their situation has truly improved.
“And lastly, we have to see whether our own business operators are ready to receive tourists under the ‘new normal’.”
Thailand attracted over one million tourists from Britain and Ireland last year. Once it does re-open to international tourists, they’ll probably only be able to visit certain spots, added Yutasak.
“We have studied a possibility of offering special long-stay packages in isolated and closed areas where health monitoring can be easily controlled – for example, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Samui.
“This will be beneficial for both tourists and local residents, since this is almost a kind of quarantine,” he added.
Thailand has a temporary ban on all international commercial flights into the country until June 30.
The country is currently focused on reopening to domestic tourism in June, added Yutasak. The TAT has been developing a new health and safety certification to reassure tourists once they do return.
Resorts and hotels in some tourism hotspots, including Hua Hin, have been given the go-ahead to reopen and shopping malls, markets, museums and some tourist attractions are expected to follow. Bangkok’s Grand Palace will open on June 4.
National parks, theme parks, spas and massage shops remain closed but restaurants have re-opened with social distancing measures in place and a ban on alcohol. Pubs and night clubs remain closed and there’s a curfew is from 11 pm to 4 am.