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Tourist numbers and revenue expected to plunge, exceeding worst predictions for 2020




It’s no secret that the Covid-19 outbreak has been disastrous for Thailand’s tourism sector, long considered a vital lifeline of the nation’s already battered economy. Now the Tourism Authority of Thailand is projecting that Thailand is likely to close the year with only 16 million international tourists and 60 million domestic trips, far below the pre-virus targets of 40 million and 172 million respectively and worse than previous predictions.

The last time Thailand had 16 million international tourist arrivals was back in 2010.

The new estimates have the country losing around 24 million tourists and 1.9 trillion baht in revenue compared with 2019, which saw arrivals soar to nearly 40 million, largely Chinese visitors.

The TAT is often questioned over its reporting of tourist numbers and revenue. Even its assumptions of a quick tourist rebound, post-outbreak #1, are overly optimistic given that Thailand will have little control over other countries easing restriction on international travel and insurance companies providing travel insurance for travellers.

This revised forecast assumes tourism activities can resume in May, with the outbreak in Thailand levelling off while overseas infections subside. The industry needs to watch the situation closely before commencing business – TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn

Combining domestic with international receipts, the TAT now project revenue for this year at just 740 billion baht – a drop of 62.8%.

“The outbreak has left a deep wound, so the recovery process is expected to gradually relieve in a U-shape curve. But we’re eager to push more speed to the V-shape growth by developing tourism confidence on the supply side.”

The TAT has established 8 task forces, working with the private sector, to provide immediate solutions to help operators rebound. The task forces are: “new normal,” rebuilding tourism, domestic market, long-haul market, short-haul market, marketing communication, digital and organisational management.

Yuthasak says the safety standards of the Safety and Health Administration guidelines are one of the urgent missions that the TAT is working on with the Ministry of Public Health. He believes that within April the SHA rules will be ready for implementation, which should help tourists regain confidence when visiting Thailand.

Yuthasak says the agency also plans to “help polish the skills of employees” in the sector.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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