China tourists ready to travel again in April as coronavirus cases subside

The engine of the world is restarting, and there are plenty of pros and cons.

Belmont Lay | March 24, 2020, 04:59 PM

Chinese tourists are going to start travelling overseas for holiday again in April 2020, as travel restrictions are increasingly being lifted.

News of citizens venturing out of China was reported by Bangkok Post in a post-Covid-19 recovery piece.

Outbound tour operators in China have informed partners in Thailand that two provinces, Zhejiang and Jiangsu, have lifted travel restrictions.

Chinese travellers are, however, likely to venture out within their own domestic provinces first, as new coronavirus infections subside.

The current Covid-19 epicentre is Italy, as medical institutions there are having difficulty coping with the thousands of new cases and hundreds of deaths daily.

Thailand post-Covid-19 recovery plan

To capture the tourists pouring out of China, Thai tourism officials aim to come up with a safety and health administration programme to help operators upgrade their ability to deal with the pandemic.

Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said, in anticipation and preparation for tourism to make a comeback: "China has passed over 45 days of virus containment. Chinese tour operators are desperate to restart business."

"If at that time Thailand is still an unsafe place for travel, we'll lose the opportunity."

Looking to Singapore SG Clean campaign

One of the things Thailand aims to do is to raise the cleaning and hygiene standards of tourism services such as attractions, hotels and restaurants.

The Bangkok Post piece highlighted Singapore's launch of the SG Clean campaign on Feb. 16, indicating that it is a likely source of inspiration as a strategy to improve personal and public hygiene in light of the outbreak.

The Thai programme aims to win the confidence of tourists.

The lessons from the pandemic are also shaping the TAT's marketing plan for 2021, which is in the drafting process.

But it is an arduous road ahead, given that tourism has been decimated by Covid-19 in one fell swoop over a matter of weeks.

Thailand could take many years to return to 40 million tourists, as the agency has set growth at just 8 percent for 2021.

The focus in Thailand for tourism has already shifted from quantity to quality.

In the 60 years the TAT has operated, the coronavirus pandemic has proven to be the most difficult challenge, even when compared with incidents like tsunamis and floods.

Emergency decree invoked

But the unsteadiness of the tourism sector is evident given that Thailand has announced it will invoke an emergency decree on March 26.

This comes after the coronavirus outbreak cases have soared to 827 and need to be controlled, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on March 24.

The emergency decree will pave the way for government orders, such as imposing curfews, prohibiting travels and evacuations.

No details have yet been given to what the order will entail, but it will likely cut into April.

Top photo via Unsplash