The buzz is already out and caught the fancy of restless Indian tourists who have been held up within the country with international travel restrictions in place. Though we don't even need to ratify this, several recent surveys have put Thailand as the No 1 international destination of choice for Indian travellers. No wonder the news of Thailand possibly opening up for Indian travellers is a big cheer for Indian tourists.
Is Thailand really opening up for Indian tourists ?
The answer is not a straight yes. There are positive signs. Recent official communication from Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has been suggestive of the fact that Thailand is looking at India very positively. However there is no official confirmation yet from Tourism Authority of Thailand or any other official agency in this regard.
TAT has conducted some surveys and studies to evaluate the Indian Outbound travel scene. TAT has noted in its report that Indian tourists are very enthusiastically looking forward to re-opening of Thailand for Indians. The impression is clear, TAT does view India as very important market and the reasons for this are
- Indian arrivals to Thailand have been consistently growing and just prior to Covid shutdown, in the year 2019 nearly 2 Million Indian tourists arrived in Thailand. At good 25% jump over previous year.
- TAT surveys have noted a significant pent up demand for outbound travel in India
- Thailand stands amongst the top 3 international destinations of choice for the Indian traveller
- Indian travellers stay on an average for 6 Nights and spend nearly THB 45000 per head , as noted in 2019 data
All of the above make India a large and lucrative market for Thailand inbound tourism. Therefore it is no wonder that Thailand as much wishes to re-start the arrival of Indian tourists and already seems have gone on a 'soft launch' to re-invite Indian visitors to Thailand.
Are Indian Tourists welcome in Thailand from 1st Oct 2021 onwards ?
Many news articles and blogs are pointing to 1st October 2021 as the opening date for restart of Indian arrivals to Thailand. However let us remind you again - No official announcement has yet come to this effect.
So why has 1st Oct been into the news all over ?
The answer to this is the fact that Thailand has announced intention of opening up of 5 new destinations for international tourists from 1 October onwards. The following 5 provinces have been mentioned
- Chonburi Province that includes the Pattaya region
- Prachuap Khiri Khan that houses the Hua Hin region
- Phetchaburi Province
- The Chiang Mai Province
With these additions to already open Phuket and Koh Samui regions , we can say that Thailand's most popular tourist destinations would be ready to welcome international tourists, just as the popular winter high season takes off. Mind you, these destinations are being proposed for Quarantine free re-opening. That means , quite possibly, international tourists could arrive at any of these destinations directly and enjoy quarantine free holiday time.
What about the Phuket Sandbox Model ?
Despite apprehensions, Thailand achieved a lot of success with the Phuket Sandbox Model. Phuket Sandbox was intended as a test model to evaluate country re-opening risks and to test protocols for international arrivals. Therefore the success of Phuket Sandbox is not to be measured in terms of arrivals in Phuket, but in terms of learnings that came along.
Despite the Covid wave hitting Thailand, Phuket was able to continue functioning. Despite very strict testing measures only about 0.28% international travellers tested positive for Covid. Further the Covid wave in Thailand is already past its peak and appears to be settling down and model predicting a very normal situation by end of October.
This has allowed Thailand administration to consider taking the bold decision of opening more destinations for quarantine free travel for international visitors from 1st Oct 2021 onwards. There is a good possibility that international tourists can directly land Bangkok, Pattaya or Phuket, rather than mandatorily spending the first week of vacation in Phuket, before being allowed elsewhere. However we still await the official announcement.
What is the process for Indian Tourists get travel approval for Thailand ?
The process would remain same as defined under the Phuket Sandbox Model. The first thing is to know who would be eligible to travel. The eligibility criteria and the process is as defined below
Who would be eligible ?
- As with Phuket Sandbox, it is almost certain that only fully vaccinated Indians would be eligible to travel to Thailand. To know more about eligibility for Phuket Sandbox as of now click here to read
- Eligible vaccine list would announced. With what is given as of now, we are sure Covishield would make the cut, however we do need clarity on Covaxin.
- It is also possible that only residents of major Indian cities are allowed, depending on the level of risk each city posses at the time of shortlisting. We will have to wait to see if this is the case
What would be the Process to apply ?
Most likely there would not be much changes to the existing process for Phuket Sandbox. The model is likely to be the same and would involve the following steps
- Apply for Certificate Of Entry (COE)
- Travel Insurance that covers Covid related emergencies to the tune of USD 100,000/-
- Pre booked SHABA Hotel Confirmation from SHA Plus Hotel
- Pre-booked Covid Tests appointments.
- Valid Tourist Visa - remember there is no visa on arrival as before and applications would have to made to the Thai Embassy
We do hear that as a learning from the Phuket Sandbox model, some of these processes could be further made easy. Possibly the cost of mandatory Covid tests could be reduced by allowing Rapid Antigen tests in place of costlier RT-PCR tests during the course of stay.
Despite all the good news coming in, Indian Travellers must understand it is not going to be a scene like before. Firstly India has to allow regular flight movements or enter into a travel bubble agreement with Thailand for flights to operate. As of now, regular scheduled international flight are banned until 30 September in India.
However even if the flight scene gets sorted, TAT has indicated to a soft start for India. TAT is targeting arrivals from major Indian cities that have better vaccination coverage and is looking at limited number of flights from these major cities. Overall TAT is estimating around 24500 Indian tourists arrivals to Thailand until Dec 2021, before a more liberal approach Jan 2022 onwards. This would be a very meagre number for a country like India, but would be a start nonetheless.
So if you are planning to be amongst the first Indians to land as tourists in Thailand in 2021, be prepared for higher priced and scarcely available air tickets. Once you do have the air-tickets, make sure you get the process of obtaining COE right. Drop us a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need our help to help you get through for your cherished holiday to Thailand.
See you soon in the land of smiles :)
Looking for updates as they happen ?
If you are a travel agent and wish you get more trade updates from us, click here to subscribe.
Follow us onTwitter for current updates