Ever since the threat of COVID-19 spread throughout the world, people everywhere felt its impact. Local businesses shut down, people stopped outside leisure activities, and most importantly, all forms of travel stopped.
Tourism, in particular, took a huge turn. Hotels used to enjoy an 80-90% occupancy throughout the year, but dropped to 65% as soon as the first COVID-19 cases were reported in the country. The usually bustling and tourist-filled attractions like the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Pratunam, Pattaya Floating Market, and the Maeklong Railway Market now stand quiet and empty.
But after months of quiet streets and lonely roads, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) shared that the country is carefully easing business and activity restrictions beginning June 2020. This includes the reopening of businesses like restaurants, accommodations, meeting places, tourist attractions, public transportation, health and beauty businesses, department stores and shopping centres, and retail shops. The government is also likely to lift the night curfew and allow most businesses to resume, except entertainment venues and wet massage parlours.
But what will that look like in the age of the New Normal?
To address the safety and health concerns of local tourists and establishments, the Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration (SHA) was initiated. The SHA was a result of the cooperation between the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the Ministry of Public Health, the Department of Disease Control, the Department of Health, and the Department of Health Service Support. This organization aims to ensure those involved in tourism are well-versed and active in disease prevention measures. That way, Thai and foreign tourists can feel safe with the country’s sanitation and safety practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The organization set up standards for frequent cleaning of the workplace and facilities, the provision of cleaning equipment, and protection for workers. In addition to this, each business sector has a specific set of rules for business owners, service providers, and those who want to make use of their services.
The organization also established Thai Chana, a registration system that allows businesses to register their businesses and support their service receipts for contact tracing. It also keeps track of infected people and automatically sends the information to the Ministry of Public Health for easy monitoring.
To know which establishments tourists can frequent, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) gives SHA certificates to establishments that comply with their health guidelines. These certificates can also be revoked if the establishment fails to comply with SHA’s standards.
If you’re a tourist, it goes without saying that you need to adhere to proper hygiene practices when visiting Thailand: Wear a face mask, wash your hands frequently, keep a meter away from other people, book ahead to ensure a time slot, and avoid paying in cash. These are just some of the ways tourists can prevent the spread of the disease while staying healthy and enjoying a safe trip.
When international travel is allowed again, Thailand will be more than ready to accept tourists. With committees dedicated to safety and health, the country is ready to provide a safe and healthy experience for tourists and locals. When the time comes, everyone is welcome, most especially those who love traveling alone and exploring scenic and cultural places, couples who are in need of some alone time looking to enjoy some exotic and romantic getaway, and of course, members of the LGBTQ community that will love and benefit from this new normal.