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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Q&A with David Barrett on travel, tourism and MICE

Jack Burton

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Q&A with David Barrett on travel, tourism and MICE | The Thaiger
PHOTO: David Barrett

Industry expert and respected marketeer David Barrett chatted with travel writer and media consultant Andrew J Wood on the recovery from the impact of Covid-19 on Thailand’s formidable travel and tourism industry.

AW. As Thailand starts to emerge from lockdown what do you believe are the most important points to consider to ensure success?

DB: As we begin to recover, we are presented with an opportunity to reset Thailand’s tourism model and build a better future. Thailand is set up for mass tourism and if we want to see sustainable growth and development we need better control and management of destinations and resources.

We need to be targetting quick-win markets from bubble source markets close to home as the first step. A focus on high yield tourists is the way to go, in tandem with wooing back mass tourism, whilst being mindful of the need to better manage the Kingdom’s resources, protecting the environment.

AW. When people start to think about travel again, what do you believe they are looking for in a post Covid-19 world?

DB: Biosecurity measures will be top of the list for first movers in international travel. Reassurances that their health and well-being are being taken care of. Hygiene and health measures may cause a little inconvenience compared to the free-spirited travel pre-Covid, but new measures need to be visible to reassure travellers, as safety is paramount. The first wave of travellers are most likely to take baby steps, travelling nationally this year, flying next year short haul within 4 hours and long haul hopefully will rebound in volume by 2022. If you’ve broken a leg and you’re on the mend, you don’t enter a marathon. The global tourism industry has been broken and is now in recovery, we need to take little steps close to home first.

AW. In a recent poll 75% of respondents said that the hotel industry in Thailand cannot thrive with only domestic tourism. Do you agree?

DB: We have to rely and survive on domestic tourism as this is the first market to travel. Thankfully the Royal Thai Government also sees the domestic sector as key to kickstarting the tourism economy and their stimulus package of 22.4 billion baht with subsidies and incentives to boost domestic tourism is a way to go. Tourism will continue to be a driver of growth for the Thai economy. Historically, international visitors have propelled the industry, but it is Thais’ desire to travel around Thailand that has seen the domestic tourism market grow.

If you take a look at one of the niche segments — ecotourism, more than 60% of small ecotourism operators in Thailand have websites and promotional collateral only in Thai. That says something about the past success and drive to build back domestic tourism as the first-move segment. Neglect domestic tourism at your peril.

AW. Your name is often linked with the MICE (Meetings Incentives Conventions Exhibitions) industry. With new social distancing guidelines in place for meetings in Thailand do you think the industry can bounce back in Thailand?

DB: MICE will return. However, if you cut through all the positive spin, the reality is that international MICE, that traditionally has been higher yield, will take much longer to rebound. Hopefully short haul MICE with Singapore as the regional corporate hub, feeding meetings to Thailand, will return by the third quarter of 2021. Long haul markets such as Europe and the high rolling incentives from the US, that we started to see growth pre-Covid, won’t be back en mass until the latter half of 2022. It’s a waiting game.

The challenge is for the DMCs (Destination Management Companies) who’ve banked their futures on these long haul markets. Do they have deep enough pockets to ride through this waiting game? Many of the small DMCs have turned to retail to tide them over, but are stressed about the timeline for the return of their business.

In terms of safe distancing at business events, the industry will adapt and as confidence in international travel resumes, I am sure some of the stringent hygiene and health guidelines will be relaxed. The desire to travel and meet people is in our DNA, and I am confident MICE will resume to pre-Covid levels, but it may take 3 to 5 years.

AW. The Thai PM is keen to engage with industry experts. What Travel and Tourism advice would you give him?

DB: Please introduce cooperation between the Ministry of Interior, who issues hotel licenses, and the Ministry of Tourism & Sports. The two ministries need to communicate and cooperate for control of Thailand’s tourism development. And ideally bring the Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment into the conversation too. We need better control and planning of tourism resources.

AW. There is much talk about resetting the industry. What do you think our priorities should be?

DB: To reset the industry:

  1. Carefully introduce bilateral government agreements on travel, so we can open up key source markets, though elimination of entry restrictions.
  2. A long-term master plan for Thai tourism that is sustainable for the environment and stakeholders A plan that everyone buys into, even if there are controls that may impact business operations.
  3. Continue the great work of the Tourism Authority of Thailand in promoting Thailand as the jewel in Asia.

And please can we have a new campaign and drop “Amazing,” which has run its course.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Sunday, August 23, 2020 at 4:53 pm

    Yes drop the Amazing Thailand.
    People are no long believing Thailand is Amazing, but some now believe Thailand is now Amazingly stupid.

  2. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Monday, August 24, 2020 at 12:41 am

    I have checked out David Barrett. He is well into saving the planet, he has all the right phrases: Positivity. Can do. and all the other corporate sales talk.
    But I ask how does he make a living. It is flogging conferences?
    Is it being Mr ten percent?
    What are his qualifications to be such an expert on Thailand?
    Or is he just a salesman pushing his products for his commission with lies about how well Thailand is going to do in the future?

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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.

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai hotels slash prices amid ongoing slump in tourism

Maya Taylor

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Chiang Mai hotels slash prices amid ongoing slump in tourism | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Rati Lanna Riverside Spa Resort

Hotels in the northern province of Chiang Mai have been forced to cut their rates by up to 90%, in a desperate bid to attract more domestic tourists. According to a Bangkok Post report, La-Iad Bungsrithong, from the northern chapter of the Thai Hotels Association, says with tourists mainly favouring the southern beach destinations this month, hotel operators in the north of the country are preparing for the forthcoming low season.

The resurgence of Covid-19 late last year meant that in December, only 1,000 Chiang Mai hotels, offering between 20,000 and 30,000 rooms, stayed open. This month, occupancy rates have plummeted to less than 3% and are not expected to rise beyond 5% during the Songkran holiday next month.

La-Iad says traditional target markets such as China are currently off-limits due to the Chinese government placing restrictions on citizens travelling out of the country.

“Even though vaccine distribution has started globally, the target markets for Chiang Mai such as China still cannot take outbound trips. Operators have to rely on the domestic market for the whole year.”

She adds that the Rati Lanna Riverside Spa Resort, of which she is general manager, has cut room rates to 1,500 baht a night, compared to the normal rate of 13,000 baht prior to the pandemic.

Hotels are also being forced to explore new ways of making money, with around 30 hotels – all 4 and 5 star properties – now offering a “drive-thru” food service. La-Iad says hotel operators are also calling on the Chiang Mai office of the Tourism Authority of Thailand to provide visitors to the province with a 500 baht coupon to be redeemed in hotel eateries. She says the authority also needs to do more to promote inter-provincial travel, in particular from the south and north-east of the country.

In 2019, Chiang Mai welcomed 11 million tourists, with 70% of them being Thai. By contrast, there were only 1 million in 2020. This year’s number is expected to be around 25% of the 2019 figure.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

OPINION – Vaccinating against Covid-19, why wouldn’t you?

The Thaiger

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OPINION – Vaccinating against Covid-19, why wouldn’t you? | The Thaiger

by Andrew J. Wood

The World Health Organisation not only advises that vaccines save millions of lives each year, but they also reduce transmissions. They and their partners are working together on tracking the pandemic, advising on critical interventions and distributing vital medical supplies to those in need, thereby reducing the number of infected people to transmit the virus.

Vaccines work by training and preparing the body’s natural defences — the immune system — to recognise and fight off the viruses they target. After vaccination, if the body is later exposed, the body is immediately ready to destroy them, preventing illness.

WHO states on its website…

“Since February 2021, at least seven different vaccines have been rolled out. Vulnerable populations in all countries are the highest priority for vaccination.

“It is understandable that some people may be concerned about getting vaccinated now that Covid-19 vaccines are available. While more Covid-19 vaccines are being developed as quickly as possible, routine processes and procedures remain in place to ensure the safety of any vaccine that is authorised or approved for use. Safety is a top priority, and there are many reasons to get vaccinated.”

One of the most frequent asked questions is can a Covid-19 vaccine make you sick with Covid-19? The simple answer is no, as none of the Covid-19 vaccines contain the live virus.

According to the USA’s Centre for Disease Control the benefits of getting a Covid-19 jab will help keep you from getting the virus. All Covid-19 vaccines currently available in the United States have been shown to be highly effective at preventing Covid-19.

“Based on what we know about vaccines for other diseases and early data from clinical trials, experts believe that getting a Covid-19 vaccine may also help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get Covid-19 and may also protect people around you, particularly people at increased risk.“

The CDC reminds us that wearing masks and social distancing help reduce the chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others, but these measures are not enough. Vaccines will work with your immune system so it will be ready to fight the virus if exposed.

Australia’s government says vaccination is the most effective way to protect against infectious diseases. Vaccines strengthen your immune system by training it to recognise and fight against specific viruses. They add that when you get vaccinated, you are protecting yourself and helping to protect the whole community by slowing down the spread of the disease. Achieving herd or social immunity is a long-term goal. It usually requires a large amount of the population to be vaccinated.

The CDC notes that people who have already had Covid-19 or tested positive may still benefit from getting the Covid-19 vaccination. There is not enough information currently available to say if or for how long people are protected from getting Covid-19 after they have had it (natural immunity). Early evidence suggests natural immunity from Covid-19 may not last very long, but more studies are needed to better understand this.

In Australia the government say that wearing a mask and physical distance is still important, “It may take time for everyone who wants a Covid-19 vaccination to get one. A vaccine that is 95% effective means that about 1 out of 20 people who get it may not have protection from getting the illness,” they advise online.

Some people never show symptoms so vaccinations are important. There is a common confusion between pre-symptomatic spread (people who spread the virus before showing symptoms) and asymptomatic spread (spreading the virus by someone who never shows any symptoms). The former is one of the hallmarks of the pandemic, the latter much less common. What is important to understand is that everyone agrees vaccines reduce transmission.

So why wouldn’t you take the vaccine that are tested to be safe and federally approved? I read comments like “it’s poison” and “does not work” on social media, but the science and three stage testing, prior to receiving government approval, dispel all that.

An Israeli study found that from 100 vaccinated patients, those who received both doses of the vaccine did not become carriers of the virus and cannot spread it further.

Israel is one of the most vaccinated countries in the world and has compiled comprehensive data.

A new study has also found a reduction in transmission rates even after the first dose. Those who test positive for Covid-19 showed that twelve or more days after taking the first dose have a viral load that’s four times lower than those who have not been vaccinated. Those receiving the vaccine became far less of a Covid transmission risk even before receiving their second dose.

Being less of a risk would allow more freedom to travel with significantly lower transmissions, especially when coupled with mask wearing, social distancing and frequent hand washing.

University Professor Cohen linked to the Israeli study and member of the official Health Ministry Advisory Committee on coronavirus vaccines, says…

“This shows that indeed, besides reducing symptoms and hopefully mortality, the vaccine may facilitate reaching some kind of herd immunity, allowing the partial protection of the weak or non-immunised.”

The question to open borders to vaccinated visitors is now looking more and more likely as the risk to do so is manageable.


ANDREW J WOOD

Andrew J Wood was born in Yorkshire England, he is a professional hotelier, Skalleague and travel writer. Andrew has 48 years of hospitality and travel experience. He is a hotel graduate of Napier University, Edinburgh. Andrew is a past Director of Skål International (SI), National President SI Thailand and is currently President of SI Bangkok and a VP of both SI Thailand and SI Asia. He is a regular guest lecturer at various Universities in Thailand including Assumption University’s Hospitality School and the Japan Hotel School in Tokyo.

The content of this article reflects the writer and does not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of The Thaiger.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

79 new cases today-COVID-19 Update

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79 new cases today-COVID-19 Update | The Thaiger

Today, the Thai government is reporting 79 new cases of Covid-19, with 65 locally-transmitted, and 14 imported, raising the total to 26,241 since the pandemic began. 1 new death has been reported, raising the total amount of deaths to 85. The new infections, which are now in the double-digits, shows Thailand’s Covid situation as improving according to the assistant spokeswoman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, Panprapa Yongtrakul.

“The two-digit level of new cases found at hospitals and communities shows that the local Covid-19 situation is under control.”

The CCSA reports that 43 of the 65 local infections were found in communities with 22 of the 65 found in hospitals across 4 provinces.

Samut Sakhon province, the source of the second wave of Covid in the Kingdom, reported 77% of the new cases. Of the 50 cases found in the province, 38 were found in communities and 12 were found at hospitals.

Pathum Thani reported 8 new cases, with 3 being found at hospitals, and 5 in the community. Bangkok reported 6 new cases at hospitals and Chon Buri reported 1 infection found at a hospital. 12 of the 14 imported infections were quarantined arrivals from Russia, The United Arab Emirates, The United States, Slovenia, South Africa, Germany, Libya and Italy.

79 new cases today-COVID-19 Update | News by The Thaiger

The other 2 imported cases were that of Thai women, who ellegedly returned from Myanmar illegally through a natural border crossing in Tak province, despite the government closing off natural border crossings after the February coup by the military in Myanmar.

Covid-19 cases rose worldwide by 446,747 over the past 24 hours to 116.21 million. The worldwide death toll rose by 9,955 to 2.58 million. The US still has the most cases at 29.53 million, rising by 68,321 over the past 24 hours, and the most deaths at 533,636, rising by 1,993 over the last 24 hours.

In light of the recent downturn in reported cases, Samut Sakhon has recently reopened 22 of its wet markets. However, the seafood market where the second wave of the Covid outbreak began, is not one of them, and it is not yet known when that might reopen.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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