International tourism is experiencing a new wave of challenges again as many countries have been hard hit by the highly contagious Delta coronavirus (COVID-19) variant, with a rising number of infections. As a result, many countries have tightened border controls and issued an advisory warning against international travel. Such measures are set to adversely affect global travel ahead. Although several countries have implemented the vaccine passport system to help ease travel-related obstacles, several conditions enforced by certain countries, including foreign tourists must be given a specific type of COVID-19 vaccine before being allowed to enter their countries, and quarantine requirements for tourists from high-risk countries even though such tourists have already received COVID-19 vaccines, will inevitably derail the recovery of international travel, including Thailand's. KResearch projects that the number of international tourists will contract 45 percent YoY in 2021 to 220 million, compared to the 399 million reported for 2020.
Meanwhile, the outlook for Thailand's inbound tourism will face more challenges during the remainder of 2021. These include the continuing rise in COVID-19 infections at home, which will likely prompt the government to continue stringent containment measures that are not favorable for travel, plus the fact that many countries have issued advisory warnings for Thailand such as the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Concurrently, Thailand's domestic travel will likely experience risks stemming from domestic political instability. We at KResearch are of the view that the number of international tourist arrivals in Thailand during the rest of 2021 will be lower than our prior estimate. As a result, the number of foreign tourist arrivals in Thailand may reach only 150,000 during 2021, against our previous forecast of approximately 250,000-650,000. We view that if the government can effectively control the COVID-19 outbreak in targeted tourist attractions for foreign tourists such as Phuket, Krabi and Surat Thani during the remainder of 2021, our inbound tourism may gradually bounce back in the final quarter of 2021.