If there are two things many people are hoping will come as a result of the tumultuous years between 2020 and 2022, they are learning and improving. Many decisions were made with the best of intentions, but sometimes they met with unfortunate consequences.
This was especially true in the travel industry during those seemingly endless years and often meant total chaos for both travelers and businesses. One day you could go, the next you couldn’t. Even as this has settled down, the constant shifting of clocks and testing requirements has completely crushed confidence and demand.
Not repeating them would do a lot of good to basically everyone. What have we learned? What would we do differently if another global “once in a lifetime” event took place? Apparently, we didn’t learn anything in Thailand.
Back then, Thailand was a country with a steady, almost bipolar travel flow, and with a new series of overnight restrictions causing people to miss flights and tours for no reason at all, travelers should expect more.
Summary: Thailand Demands Vaccination and Testing, Then Don’t!
Last week, Thailand introduced a series of travel restrictions. From zero to a hundred really fast – and back again.
The beloved Southeast Asian destination briefly reintroduced travel testing and proof of vaccination rules – then almost immediately returned to essentially no restrictions, all before dinner was over. Yes, they were added and removed on January 9 – the same day.
It is extremely important to remember that the entire burden of people brought into the country usually rests on the shoulders of the airlines that bring them in.
If the airline “picks up” a passenger who is then turned back at the final destination due to lack of proper documents prior to departure, the airline is liable to fines and transport, among other things. This applies to things like ESTAs or other travel authorizations, not just health issues.
So when Thailand decided out of nowhere to reinstate vaccination and testing rules for travellers, airlines understandably had to be careful. This meant that many passengers were turned back from traveling to Thailand at the point of departure, even when there were connections elsewhere.
You wouldn’t believe the “good news” that restrictions were lifted on the same day, nor would it be official on airline systems for hours, and even then station managers or check-in agents who don’t want to be fired would probably still make a mistake due to caution.
People are looking elsewhere again
Thailand is stunning. It’s gorgeous, kind, vibrant, and delicious all rolled into one—both bustling cities and remote natural wonders. But it is also not the only Southeast Asian country worth visiting. Nearby Vietnam, Laos and others are wonders in themselves.
Recent changes to restrictions and continued uncertainty about what travelers may visit in the future are causing many visitors to look elsewhere.
The country has been one of the worst offenders in the past few years with constant changes, even including a 31-step visitor admission plan at one point. There seems to be chaos here, with little coordination between agencies and stakeholders.
Thousands of people missed their flights and holidays on January 9, and the chaos in which the changes were made does not ensure that the mistakes will not be repeated.