If there are two things I think many people hope comes as a result of the tumultuous years between 2020 and 2022, it’s learning and improvement. Many decisions were made with the best of intentions, but sometimes met with unfortunate consequences.

This was particularly true for the travel industry during those seemingly never ending years, and it often meant total chaos for travelers and businesses alike. One day you could go, the next you couldn’t. Even if that stabilized, constant shifting of time clocks and testing requirements crushed confidence and demand altogether.

Not repeating them would do quite a lot of good for basically everyone. What did we learn? What would we do differently if another “once in a lifetime” global event comes around? In Thailand, apparently, we’ve learned nothing.

Thailand was a country of constant, almost bi-polar travel flux during those times, and with a new series of overnight restrictions causing people to miss flights and trips for absolutely no reason, travelers should expect more.

Recap: Thailand Demands Vaccination & Testing, Then Doesn’t!

In the last week, Thailand ran the gamut of travel restrictions. Zero to one hundred real quick — and back again.

The beloved Southeast Asian travel destination reinstated rules for travel testing and proof of vaccination briefly — and then almost immediately went right back to basically having no restrictions at all, all before dinner was finished. Yes, they were added and dropped on January 9th — the very same day.

What’s vitally important to remember here is that all the burden for people being transported to a country typically falls on the shoulder of the airlines bringing them.

If an airline “boards” a passenger who is then turned away at the destination for not having appropriate pre-departure paperwork, the airline is on the hook for fines and transportation, among other things. This expands to things like ESTA’s or other travel authorizations and not just health concerns.

So when Thailand decided out of nowhere to reinstate vaccination and testing rules for travelers, airlines understandably had to err on the side of caution. This meant many passengers were turned away from Thailand bound itineraries at their point of origin, even if there were connections elsewhere.

The “good news” that restrictions had been rescinded the very same day wouldn’t be believed, or official in airline systems for many hours to come and even then station managers or check in agents not wanting to be fired would still likely err for caution.

People Look Elsewhere, Again

Thailand is stunning. It’s gorgeous, kind, lively and delicious all in one — with bustling cities and remote natural wonders alike. But it’s also not the only country worth a visit in Southeast Asia. Nearby Vietnam, Laos and others are wonders of their own.

The latest restriction changes and the lingering uncertainty about what travelers may need to visit in the future is causing many visitors to look elsewhere.

The country was among the worst offenders during the last few years for constant changes, even including at one point a 31 step plan for visitors to enter. Chaos seems to reign here, with little coordination between agencies and stakeholders.

Thousands of people missed out on flights and holidays on January 9th and the chaos in which changes were enacted leave little confidence that mistakes won’t be repeated.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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8 Comments

    1. Absolutely children in adult bodies…then again the ruling establishment don’t like Caucasian tourists.Asian tourists no problem.

  1. Yep, we’ve been watching to come to Thailand since pandemic and finally booked the flight for Jan 9th. We’ve realized not to deal with mental government , so never Thailand.

  2. I have lived in Thailand for 8 years and have become numb to all the senseless flipflops by the govt on policies that seem to have no forethought at all. There is virtually no accountability.

  3. Yeah, sure, all with good intentions. You vaxxed up, constant markers simply cannot be trusted anymore to make real life adult decisions nor comment on the state of the world. Go back to serfdom and be happy in your uninformed ignorance.

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