Delay Of Thailand’s Re-Opening Likely

Thailand’s cabinet approved a plan to re-open Phuket to tourism July 1, with a path to then re-open Chiang Mai, Krabi, Pattaya, Phang Na, and Koh Samui October 1.

Visitors still wouldn’t be able to visit other locations in the country. That’s because Thailand decided to focus its vaccination program on these tourist areas first, to protect locals against Covid-19 while allowing a restart of tourism-dependent economies.

I wrote, though, that you should wait to book travel unless you wanted to quarantine because “the vaccination of local residents requirement creates a strong possibility that the date on which vaccinated travelers will not have to quarantine on arrival will get pushed back.”

It’s always wise to remain flexible because of the unexpected turns and unpredictability of the pandemic, but the need for the Thai government to execute a program on schedule that’s also dependent on a supply of vaccines from another government made counting on Thailand’s July partial re-opening risky.

With an increase in Covid cases in Thailand the country is already considering delaying Phuket’s re-opening just a couple of weeks after the plan to allow tourism was announced.

According to Tourism and Sports Minister Pipat Ratchakitprakarn, a meeting will be held next week with all relevant agencies to discuss if it is still realistic to implement the so-called ‘Phuket Sandbox’ model from July, while infections in the country continue to surge.

Westin Siray Bay, Phuket

The increase in cases is being blamed for a delay in vaccinations on Phuket, and the country’s goal is 70% vaccination by end of June in order to provide for re-opening. However, “[i]f herd immunity can not be achieved by June, only certain areas of Phuket may be opened to foreign tourists, rather than the whole island, as originally planned.”

Of course the notion that herd immunity would be reached with 70% vaccination, primarily using Sinovac’s vaccine which was reported to be 50% effective in Brazilian trials but now showed 67% effectiveness in Chile while a top Chinese official admits the country’s vaccines lag in their effectiveness.

Nonetheless this plan is far more reasonable than the ‘very Thai’ approach proposed last year for cmaking visitors wear tracking devices, and hiring locals to follow visitors everywhere they went or the 31-step process for entering the country outlined in the fall.

Still, re-opening Thailand is far more hopeful than Australia, where the government says they could keep borders closed even after vaccinating everyone.

(HT: Drew J)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Based on the published data up to this date Thailand reported about 40k total cases and only 99 deaths (also total) attributed to Covid-19. From these numbers the effective death rate is 0.25% Australia reported ca. 29.4k cases but 910 deaths (or approximately 3.1% death rate). US number of death/cases is 1.8%. (Of course the actual numbers are different because of asymptotic cases etc.). While the reasons for the low approximate/effective death rates in Thailand could be debated, let’s use these numbers for now. Moderna and Pfitzer vaccines are about 90% effective outside clinical trials. Would those vaccines decrease the risk for Australians and Americans of dying from Covid by a factor of 10 (because of 90% vaccine efficiency)? If so, those numbers would be about the same as those currently reported in Thailnad without any vaccination.

  2. @Kukulo, the vaccine efficiency rate only describes prevention of any infection at all. The leading vaccines have been shown to be right around 100% effective in preventing death. Get everyone vaccinated and COVID is no longer a major health problem.

  3. @Kuloko
    The Australian figures are skewed by the fact there were major outbreaks in aged care facilities, with the relatively higher death rate; in Thailand the majority of cases have been in younger age groups: migrant workers ( ie the same as Singapore) and patrons of clubs/pubs. It’s not apples/apples comparison.
    Thailand is now on the cusp of disastrous numbers, as the virus spreads into more vulnerable groups. There’s no way in the world they’ll be open for tourism this year…unless there’s a dramatic curtailing of the spread/ evidence that vaccines stop transmission

  4. Thailand had “cases” under control, almost at zero…until they rolled out the vaccine. [Nevermind deaths are almost zero – literally]

    Cambodia – same story.

    Is Laos next? They only started their vax rollout in April. Being next to Thailand, no case rise yet. Hmm…

    check out Mongolia too…almost nothing, then they rolled out the vaccines. Uruguay as well.

    see a pattern?

    seasonality still rules…but do vax cause cases/deaths? Look at the curves, check the rollout dates for yourself.

    Not a surprise for those in the know.

  5. Sad story here in Thailand as we are fighting our “Third Wave.” Likely the old guys running the country have their vaccines now and don’t really care what happens. Was hoping to hang on here till August with no COVID but with no vaccine around for expats (sans ChinaVAX), might be time to head home to USA. Could get ugly. If you’re VAX’d tho, good chance they might open up sooner, as the cat it outta the bag now. It’s a great time to visit, assuming you don’t worry about getting the bug.

  6. @whocares

    No. Wrong. Don’t spread inane conspiracy theories, thanks.

    (It’s literally is possible for a vaccine to *cause* infection, if you understand how they work, so if there is some link with vaccine rollout it is something else, perhaps human behavior?)

  7. @whocares Are you for real? Countries vaccinate because they are re-opening travel. Re-opening national economies will inevitably result in higher rates of transmission. Saying that the vaccine causes COVID is like saying tylenol causes pain because everyone who takes tylenol is in pain.

    Did you know that prior to Feb 2020, the last time KC won the Super Bowl was at the end of the ’69 season — when nearly one million people died in a pandemic caused by H3N2 (influenza)? See a pattern?

    Correlations are fun. Causation is harder.

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