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Thailand’s tourist magnets deserted and desperate

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Thailand’s tourist magnets deserted and desperate | Thaiger

The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, bird flu, SARS, political upheavals, passenger boats sinking. None of these have had anywhere near the effect of this year’s Covid-19 pandemic in Thailand. Visitor numbers, even from the usually enthusiastic Tourism Authority of Thailand, are expected to plummet up to 80% for the year. The other 20% mostly visited the Kingdom in the first quarter before the ‘disruption’. Last year, almost 40 million tourists visited Thailand.

Phuket and Pattaya, both economies built around the smell of the tourist dollar, are almost devoid of any tourists – a few domestic tourists and long-term expats are doing little to revive economies that previously relied on thousands of daily arrivals, not less than a hundred.

In Phuket, Monday morning, there were only three domestic flights out of the airport terminal, all to Bangkok. The Thaiger was flying on an Air Asia flight, probably 60% full. Even the most optimistic travel consultants are wondering how long even the lean and mean low-cost airlines can keep flying with limited passengers, on limited flights and most of their fleet still gathering dust on airfields around the country.

On Koh Samui, Thailand’s second largest island, the situation is even worse than its Phuket and Pattaya cousins with beaches almost entirely empty. The streets of Koh Samui are eerily quiet. Along Chaweng’s Beach Road, a famous tourist magnet, shopping and party zone, shuttered shops stretch all the way along the beach strip.

In the months before, over the traditional Thai tourism ‘high season’ Samui had been buzzing with traffic. Now, taxi drivers sit idle on the roadside with little chance of passing customers. There are now more soi dogs lazing on the Beach Road than taxis sitting kerbside.

Nearly 40 million tourists made their way to Thailand in 2019, attracted by the spectacular beaches, ornate temples, famous cuisine and exotic culture. In 2020, the country will struggle to reach even 20% of that.

Since April, Thailand has imposed a ban on all incoming passenger flights. Then in June, politicians, eager to restart the tourist economy, started chatting about travel bubbles with other low-risk cities and countries. But the number of infected Thai repatriates, and the resurgence of Covid-19 in some of the previously low-risk countries, has shelved any idea of travel bubbles appearing any time soon.

For now, Thailand’s borders remain largely shut to almost all foreigners. Certainly there are no tourists being allowed into the country to populate the bars and shops in the country’s most popular tourists areas. Tanes Petsuwan, deputy governor for marketing communication at the TAT, says that during previous crises, revenue and passenger traffic dropped up to 20%.

“This year, the coronavirus pandemic is expected to cause a 80% fall in revenues. It’s a huge impact.”

As the country started re-opening shops in a rollout of ‘re-opening phases’ during May and June, shops eagerly opened their doors around the country hoping to restart their businesses. Restaurants, retailers, shopping centres, service industries. Even the bars and pubs were allowed to re-open from the start of July.

But now many of these small businesses have shut up shop again with their enthusiasm for re-opening replaced with a reality that there are just a lot fewer customers than before. In tourist hotspots like Pattaya, Patong (the main tourist town in Phuket) and Samui, the previously busy tourist magnets are now virtually ghost towns. In other parts of the country, certainly around Bangkok, Thai life is resuming swiftly but this time, without foreign tourists.

Lloyd Maraville, the GM of Nora Buri resort and spa in Samui reports that, of his hotel’s 144 rooms, about 100 remain empty, though this will fall to 85 over the coming holiday weekend.

“Government measures might sustain hotels for a while but it will not be a long-term solution. Profit is out of the question at this moment, we just want to maintain the resort.”

The GM of another 5 star hotel in Kata, Phuket, who asked not be named, said that his resort is re-opening 10 rooms, instigated by the Government’s domestic tourism stimulus package, and intend keeping those rooms open with a skeleton staff.

“We’ve sold out most of the rooms for the long weekend but don’t know where the tourists will be coming from after that. But we have to remain optimistic.”

In Koh Samui, businesses remain focused on basic survival for now, doing whatever they can to find a few customers just to pay for their skeleton staff and rent. Last month it was reported that nearly 100 local hotel owners were having to put up their properties for sale in Samui.

Many more, in Samui and other parts of the country, remain closed indefinitely.

SOURCE: The Guardian | The Thaiger | TAT

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Thomas Easton

    Thursday, July 23, 2020 at 5:39 pm

    I see that quite a few bars in Pattaya that had reopened have now had to close yet again due to low customer numbers, unfortunately I think a lot more places are going to end up going the same way, at least as long as borders are closed to tourists. I was hoping to be in Thailand for 6-7 weeks at the end of November, start if December but think I’ll have to look for somewhere else to spend my money.. Pity was really looking forward to the trip.

  2. Avatar

    Arthur

    Friday, July 24, 2020 at 4:41 am

    I was sldo thinking of coming to Thailand for 6 to 10 months. Starting September. Looks less likely day by day. Might go to Caribbean instead.

  3. Avatar

    Jan

    Friday, July 24, 2020 at 10:48 am

    In Koh Samet you can now catch a ferry with other people, go to the beach, and hotel pool as normal. You can also take boat trip around the island, but you cannot go diving or snorkeling anywhere at sea from a boat even with all your own equipment because of local government advice. Does the ocean or fish have covid, or are officials just actively trying to destroy any chance of tourism recovering? Madness in the extreme.

  4. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Sunday, August 16, 2020 at 3:16 pm

    Give a Thai a uniform and they will make up rules they can enforce – they love the power.

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Chon Buri

Chon Buri adds 99 new Covid-19 infections today

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Chon Buri adds 99 new Covid-19 infections today | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Covid-19 cases continue to be identified from entertainment venues across Thailand.

The Chon Buri Covid-19 cluster is spreading with the Chon Buri Provincial Public Health Office confirming 99 new cases today. The province, which contains Pattaya, seems to be following a growing infection trend. The Pattaya area saw 47 new cases, and Mueang Chon Buri had 41 cases, with other districts having less than 5 each. 2 people infected with Covid-19 were brought from outside Chon Buri for treatment locally. The new cases bring the total number of Covid-19 infections in the province up to 710 people.

While infections are on the rise, officials advise that the numbers are not showing a severe or exponential increase and are in line with daily averages. They say the growing numbers are more likely due to “diligent testing throughout the community”, especially in nightlife venues and popular entertainment districts. 984 cautionary tests were administered today along with 342 people suspected to have been in close contact with Covid-19 infected people.

Within the new infections, 41 people are still being investigated to find the source of the virus, while 29 people were family members or close contacts of other infected people.

The sources of new infections are…

  • PATTAYA
    • 3 infections at The Box 69 Pattaya
    • 3 infections at Cetus Pattaya
    • 3 infections at Garden 168
    • 1 infection at Bone Pattaya
    • 1 infection at Insomnia Pattaya
  • OTHER AREAS IN CHON BURI
    • 5 infections at Flintstone’s Pub in Meung Chon Buri, the source of 137 cases total.
    • 4 infections at Infinity Siracha
    • 3 infections at 2.7 Replay Bang Saen
  • FROM OUTSIDE CHON BURI
    • 4 infections at Entertainment venues in Bangkok

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Northern Thai provinces starting Covid restrictions as 3rd wave spreads

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Northern Thai provinces starting Covid restrictions as 3rd wave spreads | Thaiger
Stock photo via Flickr

Thailand’s northern provinces are starting to impose more self-quarantines or travel restrictions to combat the recent Covid-19 outbreak that has spread quickly throughout northern Thailand. Phichit and Lampang provinces are the latest in northern Thailand to impose a variety of covid-19 restrictions on people entering.

A Thailand Interior Ministry told Chiang Rai Times that the longer list emphasises the seriousness of the 3rd wave of the coronavirus. The new wave originated in nightlife venues in Bangkok and has spread to 74 out of Thailand’s 77 provinces, as of yesterday. Health inspectors believe the new and more contagious UK strain of Covid-19, named B117, arrived in Thailand from Cambodia through migrants.

But as the CCSA has largely placed restrictions in the hands of each provincial government, many are confused about what guidelines they must follow upon entering certain provinces. Northern Thailand’s Lampang province, for example, orders visitors from Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathom and Chiang Mai to report immediately to local health authorities or officials, but it does not require them to undergo quarantine for 2 weeks if test results are negative.

Visitors are advised to check updated information at moicovid.com as the rules are different in each province. So far, 42 provinces have imposed self-quarantine. Phichit, Lampang and Ubon Ratchathani were the latest to join 39 other provinces imposing a variety of restrictions on people entering their provinces.

Visitors to the website posted multiple questions, mostly on whether they needed to be quarantined.

Provinces that impose self-quarantine or other requirements on travellers:

NORTH

  • Chiang Mai
  • Kamphaeng Phet
  • Lampang
  • Lamphun
  • Nan
  • Phayao
  • Phetchabun
  • Phichit
  • Phitsanulok
  • Phrae
  • Tak
  • Uttaradit

NORTHEAST

  • Amnat Charoen
  • Bung Kan
  • Buri Ram
  • Chaiyaphum
  • Khon Kaen
  • Maha Sarakham
  • Mukdahan
  • Nakhon Phanom
  • Nakhon Ratchasima
  • Nong Bua Lam Phu
  • Nong Khai
  • Sakon Nakhon
  • Ubon Ratchathani
  • Udon Thani
  • Yasothon

CENTAL AND EAST

  • Chai Nat
  • Lop Buri
  • Nakhon Sawan
  • Sa Kaeo
  • Saraburi
  • Sing Buri
  • Uthai Thani

SOUTH

  • Chumphon
  • Narathiwat
  • Pattani
  • Phangnga
  • Ranong
  • Satun
  • Songkhla
  • Trang

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid UPDATE: Wednesday’s new infections rise to 1,335 people, 36 people in “serious condition”

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Covid UPDATE: Wednesday’s new infections rise to 1,335 people, 36 people in “serious condition” | Thaiger

Thailand’s CCSA has announced 1,335 new infections today, after a slight dip in the 10 day surge yesterday. 1,326 of those new infections are local, not imported, and mostly from Bangkok. Today’s tally takes the national total to 35,910 since January 2020 when the first case outside China was detected in Thailand on January 13.

The new infections have mostly emerged in Bangkok with 351 cases. Surrounding provinces report an additional 115 infections today. In other provinces, 877 people.

It’s also been reported today that 36 people are currently in a serious condition and 9 people are on ventilators. Here’s the number of cases reported each day since the start of April…

April 1 – 26 infections

April 2 – 58 infections

April 3 – 84 infections

April 4 – 96 infections

April 5 – 194 infections

April 6 – 250 infections

April 7 – 334 infections

April 8 – 405 infections

April 9 – 559 infections

April 10 – 789 infections

April 11 – 967 infections

April 12 – 985 infections

April 13 – 965 infections

April 14 – 1,335 infections

Meanwhile, Prachuap Khiri Khan officials have ordered the closure of “high risk venues” such as pubs, bars, water parks, children’s playgrounds, gyms, cinemas, game shops. The Governor says restaurants can open “but no alcohol can be served”. This includes the seaside town of Hua Hin.

In Krabi there is now a total of 11 infections, 6 new ones yesterday.

In Chon Buri, which includes Pattaya, there were 99 new confirmed infections of Covid today … a similar number to the past few days.

Total number of infections being treated in provinces…

• Bangkok: 1,689
• Chiang Mai: 880
• Chonburi: 594
• Samut Prakan: 416
• Narathiwat: 304
• Prachuap Khiri Khan: 265
• Samut Sakhon: 166
• Pathum Thani: 124
• Sa Kaeo 105
Covid UPDATE: Wednesday's new infections rise to 1,335 people, 36 people in 

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