With daily new cases on a level that lands Thailand on many country's "red lists," Thailand isn't exactly considered a safe place to be by people that are afraid of Covid. I am not one of those people but I am just pointing out a fact that this generally seems to the measuring stick that the world uses as far as travel is concerned. I'm not saying those people are correct and for the most part I am on the side of people that think that Covid isn't anywhere near as dangerous as the news and various governments would have us believe.
However, Thailand is in a situation right now where it is quite critical that they get back involved in the tourism game as soon as they possibly can and a lot of the highers ups in economic places in this country agree with this idea.
There are a lot of reasons that are claimed as to why it is that people have flocked to this country in the past for their vacations but I think if anyone is being frank they will state the obvious that the reason people came here was because of the beaches and nightlife that can be experienced for a fraction of the cost of other similar places around the world. Sure there are a ton of temples and history, but the main attractions are the sand and nightlife.
After more than a year of being all but completely closed off, a large portion of this country is suffering badly as 20% of the overall income in the Kingdom depends on tourism and the fear of the Federation of Thai Industries as well and high ranking officials in the Tourism Authority of Thailand is that if they do not open soon to international tourism that this fame that Thailand had as this sort of destination could fade among the international audience.
....and I think these officials have a very good point
It is true that Thailand is inexpensive compared to some places that are like it but it isn't like there aren't a plethora of other options that fit the bill in exactly the same fashion that are located around the world. Sure, when compared to Maldives, Seychelles, or Polynesian beach getaways, Thailand is cheap but there are plenty of places in the world that are also like this.
You only need to look at basically all of Central America and the Caribbean in order to find the same values and if these places start to open first the fond memories or stories that have been heard of Thailand could fade and then the country could be facing a very expensive uphill battle in order to lure the tourists back to the Land of Smiles.
I don't know how long it has been going on but during the time that I have spent here I have noticed that officials, not business owners, have had a certain sort of disdain for certain types of tourists and the government has been very open about how they were trying to change the tourist demographics of the country to find the "right kind" of tourists and by "right kind" they mean "rich." While attempting this, they turned their back on budget travelers and long-term travelers to the point where even before Covid Thailand was slowly but surely stopping to be considered one of the popular destinations for budget travelers and backpackers. I've always felt like this was a terrible approach for them to have since every traveler, regardless of their budget, is putting money into the economy that otherwise wouldn't exist.
I agree with the officials that are calling for the near-immediate reopening of tourism in this country but I would go a step further than that. Thailand needs to abandon this notion of targeting certain demographics based on income-level and simply go after everyone. There is more than enough space for all type of travelers and I believe that there is going to be a massive race to attract tourists on a global scale that will not have space for excessive regulations the likes of which this country has enforced and embraced the entire time I have lived here.
I consider it to be like a restaurant with 100 seats in it. As the manager, of course you would prefer the type of people that are going to order the high-priced items on the menu and order without much consideration for the expense, but if this is only filling 20 of the seats in the restaurant then I can see no reason to not attempt to fill the other 80 seats with people who just want some soup or a cup of coffee. Yet in the years that I have lived here it seems as though Thailand officials are content to leave those other 80 seats vacant rather than let the latter group in at all or if they do let them in, they don't let them stay very long and then harass them to get out of the restaurant as quickly as possible.
Imagine if 20% of your own livelihood depended on a particular thing: You probably wouldn't see this as an opportunity to pick and choose how you were going to receive it but just take it as it comes, right? Now imagine that for nearly 2 years that income of yours was completely cut off and everyone else in the world was also vying for that particular thing: It would be a terrible time to be choosy about what comes your way, wouldn't it?
A paying customer is a paying customer and I am hopeful that Thailand will realize that now is the time to be open to everyone, not just the wealthy. If Thailand fails to embrace international tourism in the next few months, and I mean across the board, I fear that it could permanently damage this country's once rather dominant placement in the tourism game.