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Re-opening Thailand to tourism will be vaccine dependent

Bill Barnett

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Bill Barnett from c9hotelworks.com continues to follow the difficult journey of the Thai hospitality industry. Traditionally, now would be the start of the country’s highly profitable high season for the tourism industry. But not this year. Thai hotels find themselves in the middle of an existential crisis – either still closed, only partly open, or one of the few converted to limited ASQ traffic. The situation is dire, when you consider that between 15-20% of Thailand’s GDP is linked to tourism.

In a speech this week Thailand’s Prime Minster Prayut Chan-o-cha spoke clearly that only when a vaccine is approved, produced, and implemented, would the country open to substantial tourism. Given the current timelines and forecasts, this may not be likely until mid-2021 at the earliest, though subject to advancement if the process could be accelerated, which is unlikely.

For tourism and hotel stakeholders, the writing is on the wall that 2021, for the most part, will see a continued reliance on domestic travellers, and only in 2022 will there be a large-scale return in numbers of overseas visitors.

Given the winter spike in Asia, Europe, and North America of Covid-19, Thailand is not alone in relying on the vaccine to return tourism but the process will not be instant and the re-openings of borders will most certainly be staged.

HERE’s a list of 113 Alternative State Quarantine hotels.

The business reality for Phuket and across Thailand is to plan for the worst in the coming six months and only expect 2022 to see a notable uptick.

Currently, the hotel sector continues to advocate to the Thai government and Central Bank for debt and financing relief measures and assistance in a social security supplement to retain staff.

While it’s negative news, it at least allows for hotels to understand the challenges ahead, plan and adjust their operating models going forward. ‘Survive the downturn’ is the new mantra.

No vaccine, no entry. Read more HERE.

No vaccine, no flight. Read more HERE.

 

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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Mike

    Sunday, November 29, 2020 at 9:59 am

    Theirs a vaccine becoming available in Dubai come December

    • The Thaiger

      The Thaiger

      Sunday, November 29, 2020 at 10:45 am

      Which of the vaccines will be rolled out? Are there any officially approved as yet?

      • Avatar

        Mike Frenchie

        Sunday, November 29, 2020 at 7:35 pm

        You bet it will take them six months or more (q3 – 2021 min.) to “certify” vaccines that will be certified by people (US – EU) way more qualified and with way more resources? Anyone with a brain will use the CDC certification and open the doors to anyone vaccinated…

      • Avatar

        Kalim

        Monday, November 30, 2020 at 2:13 am

        There is speculation in Ireland that Dubai is getting vaccine from Russia, you can look up pod cast on pat Kenny show on newstalk radio.
        A doctor gives updates on the virus and vaccines

  2. Avatar

    Peter

    Sunday, November 29, 2020 at 10:29 am

    I’m surprised anyone thought it would be any different, I very much doubt boarders will be open by then without some form of quarantine.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Sunday, November 29, 2020 at 10:42 am

      I’m not “surprised” – I’m absolutely amazed!!!

  3. Avatar

    Issan John

    Sunday, November 29, 2020 at 11:19 am

    “… the hotel sector continues to advocate to the Thai government and Central Bank for debt and financing relief measures and assistance in a social security supplement to retain staff.”

    … and how about “a social security supplement” for all those who planted rubber trees who are making a fraction of what they were a few years ago when things were booming?

    … and help for all the factories who’ve had to reduce production as demand’s dropped but they want “to retain staff” they’ve trained?

    To hear all the weeping and wailing and tearing of hair-shirts from the ‘hospitality industry’ (globally, not just in Thailand) you’d think they’d been running a not-for-profit charity rather than a business that relied on exploiting cheap labour with staff who depended on customers’ tips so the owners could make handsome profits.

    You want a solution so you can “retain staff” and “survive the downturn”?
    How about investing some of your previous profits in your staff instead of yourself and your business, and making them shareholders in a co-operative?

    Somehow pleading for debt relief and a social security supplement seems a much more palatable option …..

  4. Avatar

    David

    Sunday, November 29, 2020 at 7:21 pm

    Makes sense, BUT, if the Tourist is Vaccinated, but Thailand is behind Vaccinating itself internally, the Tourist should not be penalized by prohibiting entry. The Tourist will not bring the Virus.

    Side comment – where/what restaurant in the headline photo?

    ?

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Monday, November 30, 2020 at 9:46 am

      There’s no indication as yet that vaccines prevent transmission – it certainly looks as if the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines don’t, in which case those vaccinated can “bring the virus” just as much as those not vaccinated.

    • Avatar

      Paul

      Monday, November 30, 2020 at 9:58 am

      It’s called Koh Thai Kitchen and located at Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui.

      • Avatar

        David

        Tuesday, December 1, 2020 at 6:54 am

        ?

  5. Avatar

    Mike Frenchie

    Sunday, November 29, 2020 at 7:43 pm

    France is now subsidizing restaurants, hotels up to 200.000 EUR per month (per company) to keep them alive… this is absolutely massive to support the touristic/leisure sector. This plus soft loans, banks delaying payments… (like Thailand)
    For Thailand, nobody may reach Q4 2021… according to my calculations (at least not without diluting massively their equity or reaching a crazy level of debts)

  6. Avatar

    James

    Sunday, November 29, 2020 at 10:18 pm

    It will work both ways, countries such as England which will have its own vaccine (Oxford University) within a few weeks will be many months ahead of countries such as Thailand and we will not want to visit countries that have not vaccinated their own population.

    The Oxford vaccine unlike the other two candidates is much easier to transport and store as it only has to be kept at fridge temperature and not in freezers like the other two.

    Thailand does not have a vaccine of its own and so will have to join the vaccine queue just like the other few billion people in the world.

    I know, we can sell it to farangs in Thailand for $1 a shot and to Thais for $100 a shot, that would re-balance the two-tier prices which exist in Thailand, to qualify for a $1 shot you will have to produce a non-Thai passport or ID card.

    I know Thailand has said it has a contract to produce the Oxford vaccine but they have also been saying they have contracts with countries regarding tens of thousands of tourists but that has not happened after six months of claims.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Monday, November 30, 2020 at 10:04 am

      How many times does it have to be repeated?

      The AstraZeneca factory which will be producing their vaccine for distribution in Asia is in Thailand.

      “England” doesn’t have “it’s own vaccine (Oxford University)” which “within a few weeks will be many months ahead of countries such as Thailand”.

      Thailand hasn’t “also been saying they have contracts with countries regarding tens of thousands of tourists but that has not happened after six months of claims.”

      … and why would anyone who’s already been vaccinated and thinks they’re protected “not want to visit countries that have not vaccinated their own population”???

  7. Avatar

    Leo Z

    Monday, November 30, 2020 at 12:47 am

    3 and 4 star hotels don’t break even at 30% capacity, globally. At 10%-20% projected capacity they will choose to remain closed. So the only way to survive another year, or a few months actually, is to have their bank loans extended and payments postponed. Or, more conveniently, go into bankruptcy. The small 1 and 2 star hotels that are family-owned and employ 3-4 staff may survive. The likes of Airbnb will be the biggest winners though, if there’s no government crackdown that is, and that’s a big “if”.

  8. Avatar

    Johnny Dee

    Monday, November 30, 2020 at 6:04 am

    The vaccine is coming guys it’s on it’s way hopefully sooner than we think the normality will resume in Pattaya for all of us GOOD GUYS!!

  9. Avatar

    Patrick Kelly

    Friday, December 4, 2020 at 12:01 am

    The vaccine is coming but will not be the answer to your prayers unfortunately. Covid will be around for years and I’m still waiting for regulations from Thailand that are not some sort of joke.

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Bill Barnett has over 30 years of experience in the Asian hospitality and property markets. He is considered to be a leading authority on real estate trends across Asia, and has sat at almost every seat around the hospitality and real estate table. Bill promotes industry insight through regular conference speaking engagements and is continually gathering market intelligence. Over the past few years he has released four books on Asian property topics.

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