Three in five Thais believe border should open within next six months
June 25th, 2020, Kim Ho

Three in five Thais believe border should open within next six months

Only two in five think tourists have a positive impact on the country

As the Thai government begins discussions on whether to open the border, YouGov looks at what locals think about re-opening the country to tourists, and what they think of the nation’s tourism industry as a whole.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is currently debating whether foreign tourists from countries where the coronavirus appears to be under control should be allowed back in the country. Tourism is a significant economic contribution to Thailand. In 2018, travel and tourism contributed to about 21.6% of the GDP, and the pandemic has undoubtedly affected the industry. Three in five (63%) think the border should open in the next six months – of which, a quarter (26%) believe this should be in the next three months. A quarter (26%) think this should be within the next six months to a year, and the remaining one in ten (11%) think the border should not open until after a year.

Asking whether Thais would agree with a decision to open up borders to certain countries, under three in ten (28%) agree. Over half (54%) disagree and the remaining 17% are undecided. As a whole, in spite of the large economic contribution tourists bring to the nation, only two in five (41%) think they have a positive impact on the country. Over one in ten (12%) describe the impact of tourism as “very positive”, three in ten (29%) as “somewhat positive”, two in ten (22%) as “somewhat negative” and less than one in ten (8%) are “very negative”. The remaining three in ten (30%) are undecided.


Those with a socioeconomic status (SES) of AB are more likely to think that tourists have a positive impact than those who are of SES DE (44% vs. 35%). Unsurprisingly, those who perceive tourists as having a positive impact are much more likely to be in favour of Thailand opening its border to certain countries than those who perceive tourists as having a negative one (43% vs. 15%).

In spite of reports of sinophobia since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Thais appear equally reluctant to opening its borders to both Chinese and Western tourists. Only two in ten (20%) agree that the government should open its borders to Chinese tourists, and a similar amount (19%) feel the same for Western tourists.

Jake Gammon, Head of Omnibus APAC at YouGov Omnibus commented: “Though tourism plays a huge role in contributing to the nation’s economy, it appears most Thais are not quite ready for their borders to be open just yet. Interestingly, despite tourists having a significant economic contribution; Thais do not particularly feel that tourists have a positive impact on the nation as a whole. It will be interesting to see if this changes when travel returns to a post-COVID world.”

***Results based on 2,069 Thais surveyed on YouGov Omnibus