Thailand witnesses a spurt in domestic tourism

Published on : Saturday, November 21, 2020

There is a surge of domestic tourism in Thailand. However, that ‘surge’ is underwhelming when compared to the previous international traffic, with 27% of it from China, highlighting the ‘good old days’. Last year, there were almost 40 million overseas arrivals.

Even places like Phuket and Khao Lak, usually witnessing international travelers for the traditional high season during this time of the year, are witnessing unusually high numbers of ‘locals’ who are visiting few of these spots, encouraged by government stimulus packages for the first time.

Local tourism operators in the southern island hot spots are also considering as to why they haven’t worked harder over the years to entice domestic tourists. For the first time ever, revenue from domestic tourists has surpassed international tourism dollars.

The entire industry is rushing to re-invent itself with a rude awakening that the good old days are unlikely to return, at least in the medium term and perhaps longer.

Just yesterday, the Thai government’s Covid-19 Taskforce, the CCSA, decided to retain the 14 day quarantine requirement for travelers. For now, plans to reduce the mandatory requirement to 10 days or less have been shelved. The Special Tourist Visa, the ‘solution’ to let in international tourists into Thailand, has seen less than 300 people arrive on the STV visa.

Suphajee Suthumpun, Dusit Thani’s group CEO, said that if the country is not reopened soon, hotel operators will bear heavy losses. She said that banks and financial institutions are not granting loans easily to tourism businesses because of the risks.

“Hence, we want to ask the government to issue financial measures to support tourism businesses and to instruct the Thai Credit Guarantee Corporation to guarantee loans for small and medium enterprises. We also want to ask the central bank to ease rules related to debentures as many large enterprises’ debentures are nearing maturity,” Suthumpun said.

Chaiyapat Paitoon, Minor International’s chief strategy officer said, “The government should look into travel-bubble schemes, ease self-isolation rules and launch measures to support entrepreneurs.”

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