Medical tourists could be one of the first groups back to Thailand


Thailand may begin welcoming tourists in July or it may not be until October. Differing reports suggest that tourism organisations and ministries are in conflict over what is safe to do.

The Thai ministry responsible for tourism has suggested that the first foreigners to be allowed into the country, possibly in July, will be restricted to business people with written support from partner companies and patients holding doctor appointments in Thai hospitals. Medical tourism to Thai private-sector hospitals has become a profitable niche market in recent years.

The Tourism Council of Thailand is lobbying for restricted-destination travel deals between Thailand and China as early as September.  Because quarantining is unfeasible for short-stay vacationers, a tracking app to keep tabs on individuals during their stay together with coronavirus tests at their hotels are under consideration. 

The complex phasing-in procedure of re-admitting foreigners is likely to be a lengthy process.  New visa rules have to be agreed with embassies and consulates abroad, whilst the immigration bureau will have to prepare for checking paperwork mandated by the government.

Thailand is nowhere near agreeing to a policy for the return of tourists on a more general scale.  Potential visitors with UK, US or European passports, and many others, have the problem that they hail from countries with a poor record in containing the coronavirus pandemic.  

Minister of Tourism Khun Phiphat Rtchakitprakarn stated, “Thailand cannot hope for an influx of foreign visitors this year”.



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