It’s expats, not tourists that are visiting Thailand says Business leader

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It’s expats, not tourists that are visiting Thailand says Business leader

A key figure in Thailand’s tourism industry pulled absolutely no punches when commenting on the country’s supposed “reopening”.

Thanet Supharothatrangsi, chairman of the Chonburi Tourism Business Association, echoed what people online have been saying for weeks if not months.

In an interview with business media he said there are virtually no tourists coming into Thailand despite the rhetoric of the government after their much vaunted reopening claims.

The only arrivals are not true tourists at all. Just business people, property owners or those with families.

The tourism industry is hardly benefitting at all. He blames all the obstacles put in the way of potential tourists, says Thailand shot itself in the foot when it had the opportunity to do better and now is even lagging behind neighbor Cambodia.

He slammed the petty and baffling alcohol and nightlife restrictions saying tourists couldn’t even celebrate New Year with a drink.

Thanet’s comments come as leading ministers wax lyrical about 50,000 visitors since November 1st and millions more to follow praising their wonderful Thailand Pass scheme as a simple panacea to reignite the tourism industry.

Thanet says it’s all smoke and mirrors.

“The reality,” he said,” is that tourism recovery is slight in the extreme. In Chonburi we are seeing 200-300 tourists a day.

“Not even 10,000 have arrived – normally pre-pandemic it would be a million.

“Thailand has shot itself in the foot despite being the first country in SE Asia to open its borders to international tourists”.

Opening up should have meant really opening up, not this half baked reopening, he said.

An RT-PCR test from their home country within 72 hours would have been sufficient not being tested again on arrival, he said.

They should have been allowed to come in and go anywhere immediately without restrictions, he noted.

Instead ridiculous obstacles have been put in their way with all the Thailand Pass documentation and tests on arrival and one day quarantine to wait for results.

He said that Cambodia opened up after Thailand but they had no silly obstacles so people were going there instead.

“Real tourists are not bothering to come to Thailand”, he continued in a controlled and measured set of statements completely mirroring what netizens have been saying.

“You can see by the hotel bookings. They are just staying one night in a hotel to wait for their test result then they are going elsewhere.

“They are not tourists, they are business people, home and condo owners or people with families in Thailand”.

Apart from a few souls “tourists are simply not coming to Thailand” said the business leader.

He called for the hoops and hurdles facing potential tourists to be removed but especially the on- arrival RT-PCR test.

He said the country’s tourism businesses were ready for visitors and it was time for the authorities to get real, stop making the big claims and get people visiting Thailand again.

They were ready since the start of the Phuket Sandbox months ago but since then there have been delays after delays as the authorities chopped and changed their minds confusing everyone.

He also attacked the decision not to reopen nightclubs, pubs and bars and the issue of not allowing alcohol to be served or having drinking restricted.

“Tourists won’t even be able to have a drink to celebrate the New Year,” he continued. “They have been told they can’t do that until at least January 15th”.

He cited the Pattaya Music festival with all its restrictions and banning of alcohol as yet another pathetic example of the obstacles in place.

“People can’t have a drink and can’t even get up out of their seats to dance to the music,” he said pointing out that such restrictions only applied inside the restricted area.

Outside this people were buying alcohol and enjoying the sounds.

“What sort of control is that?” he fumed clearly exasperated by his country’s measures.

As further evidence of his claims he pointed to a leading German tour company that would normally be sending 3,000-4,000 tourists a month.

He said they were sending just 20 a day and not to Pattaya – they were nearly all going to Phuket, he lamented.