Imagine going for a retreat in Thailand? Wouldn’t that be great? Unfortunately, during this pandemic period, the country opened its doors for tourists, but no one came. More importantly, most resorts opened, but the government failed to meet even the lowest expectations. According to Thailand Longstay Company, only 346 overseas visitors entered the country per month. But that was not the case in Sri Lanka.
What Thailand can learn from Sri Lanka
Since the first COVID-19 case and the border lockdown, the tourism sector in all tourism-dependent countries has faced many difficulties. To be more specific, Thailand had gone out of its way to try and shore up the country’s economy while at the same time keeping the people safe.
Thailand aimed to lure retirees who were probably running from the European winter and tourists who would have loved to stay in Thailand for a more extended period. And as much as they were required to go to quarantine first, at the end of it all, they would enjoy their stay in the unscathed high-end resorts.
However, the tourists’ lack of interest seemed to be adding more pressure to Thai policymakers. But while the Thai situation might have seemed frustrating, I feel like there could still be a light at the end of the tunnel. Thailand can learn a thing or two from Sri Lanka’s reopening up of the Tourism sector.
Sri Lanka started their pilot project, of welcoming 1500 Ukrainian tourists, reopening its country back in December 2020. And so far, Sri Lanka has taken the following steps to prevent tourists from spreading COVID-19 to the locals and vice versa. That said, Sri Lanka came up with the following health guidelines for tourists visiting the country:
- Insurance cover for COVID-19 for one month
- Two mandatory PCR tests if visiting for seven days and below and three PCR tests for visiting staying for more than seven days
- For the first 14 days, the tourists need to have pre-confirmed hotel booking in certified and secure Level 1 hotels
The good thing is that the Tourism Development Authority in Sri Lanka had certified at least 180 hotels following strict COVID-19 guidelines. These hotels would host tourists coming to Sri Lanka. The people had been pushed to the corner before they came up with the reopening protocols.
According to the minister of Tourism Sri Lanka, nearly three million people in the country are dependent on tourism either directly or indirectly. These people were facing many difficulties, but now that the country is now officially open for tourists since 21st January, most families will improve.
The tourism industry is one of the most damaged sectors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But with time, countries that depend highly on tourism will finally get the chance to stand on their own two feet. That said, we all need to learn from other countries’ mistakes to correct our own.
And in this case, Thai can take a few pointers from Sri Lanka and gear their services to cater to the new tourist audience. Safety against the coronavirus seems to be a primary concern for most tourists. And with that in mind, safety should also be a point of reference when designing the next tourist marketing model.
Both Thai and Sri Lanka are excellent places that most tourists would love to go and unwind. However, without the right procedures in place, there’s a high chance that Thailand’s tourist sector will continue to dwindle amidst this pandemic period.