Thailand considering less dependence on tourism as survival strategy

Published on : Tuesday, December 22, 2020

‘Amazing Thailand’ was the catchphrase for the Kingdom’s visitors industry for many years fetching $56.2 billion in tourism revenue last year alone. The Thai smile, Thai food became the trade for Thailand worldwide.

As per a Thai government Minister, it is clear that tourism will never be allowed to recover to previous levels. There has been a major policy shift in government thinking by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha’s cabinet.

In a deeply worrying development for Thailand’s massive Travel & Tourism industry, accounting for 20 percent of GNP and 10 percent of all jobs in Thailand, the deputy PM Supattanapong Punmeechaow said that the country depended too much on tourism, and hence, the outcome was simply unacceptable.

The present situation is worrying for property developers as well as investors. If the 39 million tourists that Thailand received in 2019 is never to be repeated, why should new hotels be built and invested in?

Deputy PM Supattanapong Punmeechaow admitted that the Covid-19 outbreak has exposed cracks and faults in the Thai economy.

“The Covid-19 outbreak that hit Thailand since April has exposed the fragility of the economy and shed light on the fact that we rely too much on export and tourism,” said the Minister.

Supattanapong Punmeechaow is now clearly worried about putting too many eggs in one basket and spreading the risk. However, it might be too early to walk away from tourism when other industries are simply not ready to take up the slack.

The deputy PM said, “The outbreak has had an especially heavy impact on small and medium businesses, prompting the government to spend over Bt 800 billion on SME aid measures including postponing debt repayment worth over Bt 6.8 trillion for 12 million SMEs. However, from July onwards, economic indicators have been pointing toward an improving trend thanks to cooperation from all parties in outbreak prevention, despite some minor impact from the political situations.”

“The battle against Covid-19 is not over yet. The government still has many projects in the coming year to boost the economy, attract foreign investors and build infrastructure for future expansion,” he added.

“It is unacceptable to let Thailand slide back to the period before Covid-19. Since the global economy is changing we must be more proactive in attracting foreign investors, and the agencies responsible for this are the Board of Investment Office and Eastern Economic Corridor Office,” Supattanapong said.

The deputy PM further said that in 2021, the Thai government will focus on investing in new industries for lessening dependence on export and tourism.

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