travelBulletin sat down with Tourism Authority of Thailand Director, Suladda Sarutilavan about the latest situation update in Thailand.
How does Thailand tourism cope with Covid-19 pandemic?
Thailand has been managing the spread of coronavirus incredibly well so far. New cases across the country have been extremely low since late April, and the number of new cases has been kept at one-digit. The World Health Organisation praised Thailand for having a good healthcare system, with 1 million village health volunteers, who efficiently take care of their communities. They are considered an important mechanism in Thailand’s robust primary health care system.
In late March 2020, the Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha also formed a Special Task Force to perform duties in accordance with Emergency Decree, called the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA). Led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the CCSA has played a significant role to this success, they have set guidelines and policies to lockdown and restrictions for the nation.
Of course, the pandemic has hurt everyone, especially those in travel and hospitality industries. Many businesses had to diversify and adjust their service offerings, for their survival and the staff’s livelihood. Many airlines have resumed operations since late May, including Bangkok Airways, Thai Smiles, Thai Air Asia, Thai Vietjet Air, Thai Lion Air, and others.
Since the start of July there are many hotels, resorts and attractions that have started to open, in response to the return of Thai domestic tourism. The tourism industry as such is starting to feel optimistic hopefully soon international travellers could enjoy Thai hospitality once again.
What kind of health and safety measures are taken to contain the spread of Covid-19?
Thailand launched a nationwide certification scheme to enhance tourism health and hygiene standard in May 2020, the Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration (SHA). This project was developed through collaboration between TAT and Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, and several Thai tourism bodies. Strict guidelines were formed for 10 types of businesses, from restaurants, hotels, attractions, transportation, travel agency, health and beauty, shopping centres, sport, activity, and entertainment, to souvenir and other shops.
Thailand has been very quick to adjust the rules and restrictions, from social distancing, national curfew, closure of non-essential businesses, gathering restrictions, as well as a uniform procedure of temperature checks and sanitising before entering or using public facilities.
What makes Thailand a unique destination?
Thailand has long been known for its amazing beaches, affordable luxuries, and its diversity. However, what really separates Thailand from other beach destinations are the friendly and welcoming people, unique culture, fabulous Thai food, health and wellness, and the incredible landscapes and natural beauty.
What activities would you recommend for millennial families?
There are many itineraries we recommend suiting young families who are looking for quality time to reconnect with each other.
Combining city and beach experience without the hassle of getting on another flight may suit those who are time-poor: stay in Bangkok and then head to either Hua Hin (3 hours’ drive) or Pattaya (2 hours’ drive). Both are easily accessible destinations, have great family attractions (such as Vana Nava Water Jungle, Cartoon Network Amazone), incredible Thai food and fresh seafood, fantastic shopping and night markets, and beautiful spas.
Those who would like to explore Southern Thailand can take off to Phuket, Krabi, Khao Lak or Ko Samui for a beach getaway. Touring Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai is also a nice learning experience on Northern Thai’s culture and the Lanna history for the whole family.
How can travel agents improve their knowledge of Thailand?
All agents should check out the Amazing Thailand Specialist program, which is our newly launched training with up to date and relevant information on Thailand.
There are eight modules that range from What makes Thailand Amazing, the five regions of Thailand, Discover Thailand Communities and Local Experiences, to Matching your clients’ needs with the right products. Agents will learn more about each region, including things to see and do, tips, itineraries, as well as the destination’s latest news while in lockdown. Those who achieve the highest score and finish quickest will be awarded gift vouchers.
Agents who complete all eight modules will receive an Amazing Thailand Specialist certificate and the chance to win luxury hotel vouchers in Thailand.
We are launching a series of bite sized webinar to support the Amazing Thailand Specialist, where agents can learn something new about Thailand offerings based on the client’s interests. Various topics are going to be covered on each webinar from latest update of Thailand, gastronomy, wellness, soft adventure, responsible tourism to family travel. Please register yourself on Friday Morning with Amazing Thailand here.
How are you staying connected with key partners during this challenging time?
We have been keeping ourselves busy during such an unprecedented time. As the situation in both Australia and Thailand keeps evolving, I have been keeping our key partners updated on travel and restriction policies.
I am also fully aware that it is a very challenging period for agents, we are hoping that agents can look beyond this pandemic; new international bookings WILL come, it is just a matter of time. At the end of the day we are all human with the need to socially connect. This is part of the reason why we have our annual roadshow. The 2020 Amazing Thailand Roadshow could not proceed due to the pandemic unfortunately; however, we are going to be back next year. The Amazing Thailand Roadshow 2021 is going to be held in Perth, Melbourne, and Sydney. We are accepting expression of interest, please sign up here.
There is a new platform where travel agents can sign up to connect with Thai suppliers directly, it’s called the Thailand Tourism Virtual Market. It is a B2B tourism marketplace that brings together Thai sellers and international buyers.
And our Friday Morning with Amazing Thailand webinars in August through September is another way for agents to stay relevant and up to date. Whilst enjoying their morning coffee, agents can listen to this interview style conversations and perhaps win more prizes.