Thailand’s tourism resumption in uncertainty again

Published on : Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Majority of Thailand’s famous holiday destinations were almost vacant last week during the long Songkran holiday. The latest Covid-19 wave, with daily infections hitting a record 1,582 on Friday were enough to scare tourists away from popular beach resorts close to Bangkok like Pattaya, Cha-am and Hua Hin, which has also become a corona virus hotspot after a super spreader event at a local pub.

Chiang Mai, celebrating its 725th anniversary, has also witnessed a sharp decline in arrivals with new Covid infections crossing 200 a day. Authorities have expressed grave anxiety in the Northern Province, which ranks second after Bangkok since the new outbreak came to the fore early this month.

The government found the source of the new outbreaks – bars, clubs and entertainment venues, and promptly shut them down for at least two weeks.

Businesses are also taking action to restrict further spread of the virus. Banks have decreased their hours of operation, and shopping malls nationwide are shutting down at 9 pm, an hour earlier than usual, until further notice.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has estimated that the Covid reappearance could slash tourist spending during Songkran by around 2.4 billion baht, with many travelers postponing their trips and accommodation bookings.
Tourism contributed approximately 20% of Thailand’s gross domestic product in 2019, with the country welcoming almost 40 million foreign tourists. That number went down to 6.7 million last year, almost all of them in the first three months.

Despite the region’s considerable success in restricting the corona virus, a recent spike in cases in countries like India, which has now surpassed Brazil for the world’s second-most Covid cases, international travel has remained essentially on hold.

To invigorate its distraught tourism industry, the Thai government has come up with an ambitious model to restart quarantine-free travel for vaccinated visitors from preferred cities and countries to Phuket from July 1. Thai Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said that he would discuss a travel bubble with Singapore that could bring in Australians traveling via the city-state.

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