Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has appeared to downplay the idea that international tourists would be allowed to return to Thailand next month.
The Thai government had previously set a tentative deadline of 1 July for lifting all restrictions put in place in order to combat the spread of COVID-19.
However, last week it was reported the lifting of restrictions would mean that international travel into Thailand would resume from 1 July.
But on Tuesday, the prime said Thailand still had a long way to go in its fight against COVID-19 before international tourists would be allowed to return.
The prime minister said the issue hadn’t yet been discussed by the Cabinet.
He added that only tourists from certain countries may be allowed to visit Thailand – namely countries where the COVID-19 outbreak is deemed to be under control.
And any tourists that are allowed to travel to Thailand will only be able to do so under a number of restrictions.
This will include creating so called “travel bubbles” using bilateral agreements with other countries to help limit any potential further outbreak.
“Once the situation improves, we’ll allow travel between countries that we have an agreement with,” Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha told Bloomberg.
The idea is similar to those put in place elsewhere as countries try to safely kick start their tourism sectors.
Last month, a travel bubble, or “travel corridor” as it was described, allowed people to travel between Seoul and 10 regions in China, including Shanghai, while in Europe, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania established their own travel bubble on 15 May.
Australia and New Zealand have also discussed plans to resume travel between the two countries, potentially starting from September.
The news comes as Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Yuthasak Supasorn last week said he doesn’t expect international tourists to return to Thailand until later this year.
“It is still dependent on the outbreak situation, but I think at the earliest, we may see the return of tourists could be the fourth quarter of this year,” he told CNN.
If and when foreign tourists can return to Thailand, there will likely be restrictions in place to determine where they can travel to.
“We are not going to open all at once,” he said.
“We are still on high alert, we just can’t let our guards down yet. We have to look at the country of origin [of the travelers] to see if their situation has truly improved. And lastly, we have to see whether our own business operators are ready to receive tourists under the ‘new normal’.”