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4 years until tourism industry gets back to pre-pandemic levels – Finance Ministry

Caitlin Ashworth



It could take 4 years for Thailand’s tourism industry to recover after being battered by the lack of travel due to the coronavirus pandemic, the government’s reaction and the economic fallout, according to the Finance Ministry.

While local and international experts project Thailand’s economy will continue to recover over the next 2 years, the tourism industry, which directly contributes 12-15% of the country’s GDP, is forecasted to take at least 4 years to get back to the pre-pandemic level, if ever. Last year, Thailand had nearly 40 million foreign tourist arrivals, generating 2 trillion baht.

Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith says he expects 8 million foreign tourists to arrive in 2021, followed by 16 million in 2022, 32 million in 2023 and 40 million in 2024. But the projections are just broad speculation.

No foreign tourists entered the country between April and September this year. In October, 1,201 foreign tourists were issued Special Tourist Visas for 90 day stays that can be renewed twice, adding up to about 9 months in total. Under the current arrangements there will only be a trickle of tourists coming under the current regime including 14 day quarantine, at the tourist’s expense, and lots of paperwork and red tape.

IF Thailand does end up. with 8 million foreign tourist arrivals next year, and the cash subsidy scheme is extended, the country’s GDP is expected to expand by 4% to 4.5%, according to the National Economic and Social Development Council.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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  1. Avatar


    Thursday, December 3, 2020 at 1:30 pm

    The problem with these types of articles is the numbers are seemingly made up. They rarely tie to numbers provided by other government agencies or even their own from month to month. Even so if they are projecting 8 million foreign tourists for 2021 then they expect to open up in a big way at some point. The BP article this comes from said there is almost 7 million through October 2020 and that’s with the first 2.5 to 3 months will full access and high season numbers. If you accept Thailand isn’t going to open for the first quarter at least, they expect tourists to come again in good numbers at some point. Regardless the difference is only 1 million and they expect 4% growth? Clearly most of that would be from government spending then. Good luck

  2. Avatar


    Thursday, December 3, 2020 at 1:42 pm

    The most realistic projections I have seen – key will be Asian markets they will come April onwards ,we won’t see many Europeans before Oct next year there will be pent up demand

    • Avatar

      Mike Frenchie

      Thursday, December 3, 2020 at 4:39 pm

      Nobody will come with a quarantine and China will keep the quarantine on the way back until vaccine is delivered to everyone late 2021…

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Thursday, December 3, 2020 at 6:14 pm

      Agreed – it looks like a pretty realistic estimate.

  3. Avatar


    Thursday, December 3, 2020 at 2:02 pm

    I bet we could get that number down to 6 months if everyone globally tells the govt to mind their own damn business. It was never the govt job to keep us safe. Anyone who thinks it is, does not understand the role of govt.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Thursday, December 3, 2020 at 6:20 pm

      Of course that number couldn’t be achieved in “six months” and it’s absurd to imagine it could.

      It isn’t just about opening orders, but it’s about the global recession and an unwillingness to travel. The numbers going elsewhere, despite a lack of options, couldn’t make that clearer to anyone with a working brain cell.

      … and OF COURSE it’s the government’s job to keep people safe and those governments that haven’t have failed in their job and their duty.

      Unbelievable that anyone can be quite so ignorant in the 21st century.

      • Avatar


        Friday, December 4, 2020 at 2:31 am

        Anything centralized is poison. too many single points for failure.

  4. Avatar


    Thursday, December 3, 2020 at 2:04 pm

    I wonder what inflation will look like in 1 year now that half the planet is unemployed and trillions of fake money has been added to the money supply..

    • Avatar

      Preesy Chepuce

      Thursday, December 3, 2020 at 10:44 pm

      That’s not how infration works Wirriam…

  5. Avatar


    Thursday, December 3, 2020 at 4:17 pm

    Dreaming , again ans again !

  6. Avatar

    Richard Renwick

    Thursday, December 3, 2020 at 4:40 pm

    Except for China, everyone else will have to wait up to 4 years.

  7. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Thursday, December 3, 2020 at 5:03 pm

    The tourist cat is out of the bag and will not be put back in.
    Tourism in Thailand was reducing before this pandemic.
    They have been too many Thai Airline fares not refunded.
    Too many hotel deposits grabbed when they knew the tourist could not fly in.
    Too much uncertainty about allowing tourists in.
    An unjustified banning of OUTWARD flights!
    Too many stupid ridiculous bans, such as hubbly bubbly pipes!
    Too many blatant exposes of corruption – unpunished.
    In four years time, Burma will have opened up, Vietnam will have improved,
    Laos will be better. Cambodia will be better.
    Thailand will be the ugly girl at the edge of the dance floor nobody wants to dance with.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Thursday, December 3, 2020 at 6:23 pm

      Touris in Thailand WASN’T “reducing before this pandemic” either in terms of tourists or tourist income – the figures are readily available if you get your head out of the sand.

      • Avatar

        Toby Andrews

        Thursday, December 3, 2020 at 10:23 pm

        Yes I know – Thai figures.
        Who believes them?

      • Avatar


        Thursday, December 3, 2020 at 10:45 pm

        Its funny John how you and Toby can write opposite things and both be correct. Yes John overall tourist numbers and revenue were up before the pandemic. However tourism in 2019 was soft and in many sectors was down. There were dozens of articles in mid to late 2019 pointing that out. The Chinese numbers were down, and more importantly they were down from Western Europe and America. However, the numbers were up from India compensating the losses. It’s not hard to find the articles, there is one from Bloomberg on August 25, 2019 and another from the Economist on August 29,2019 to name a few. You know better than most each type of tourist spends differently. When you lose tourists from the upper sections of those who spend the most per person. Replace them with others who are shall we say frugal and despised by many Thais for just that reason it cuts into profit margins. Fact is 2019 wasn’t a good year for the Thai tourist industry.

        • Avatar

          Stephen Westrip

          Friday, December 4, 2020 at 8:42 am

          The spend per tourist is quite low for Chinese tourist compared with tourists from Middle Eastern/Europe/America/Oceania and even lower for other Asian tourists so they are going to have to get an awful lot of Chinese/Asian tourists to see the revenue the Thailand tourist sector wants.

          • The Thaiger

            The Thaiger

            Friday, December 4, 2020 at 9:12 am

            Incorrect. Per diem, the spend per Chinese tourist was the highest as measured in 2018. But, per tourist, their entire contribution was less as they only stayed, on average, for 3 days, compared to a week or more for many other tourists.

    • Avatar


      Thursday, December 3, 2020 at 6:47 pm

      If and when Myanmar opens up to mass tourism and the infrastructure is improved will be the real test of Thailand’s tourist industry.

      Myanmar has everything and more that Thailand offers as well as being the birthplace of many things appropriated or popularised by Thailand such as lethwei (or muay Thai as it’s known in Thailand) massage etc. As well as having thousands of kilometers of pristine beach, hundreds of islands and untouched rainforests.

      The Thais will need to step up their undermining of Myanmar’s tourist industry to be able to compete in the future.

  8. Avatar


    Thursday, December 3, 2020 at 6:39 pm

    Could someone explain to Johnny how to use inverted commas correctly?

    • Avatar


      Thursday, December 3, 2020 at 8:11 pm

      Get a life

      • Avatar

        Preesy Chepuce

        Thursday, December 3, 2020 at 10:51 pm

        “Get a life”, surely?

  9. Avatar

    Patrick Kelly

    Thursday, December 3, 2020 at 11:41 pm

    A four year downward swirl leaving the economy in tatters. What once was a world class tourist destination will be ruined for decades.

    • Avatar

      J West

      Friday, December 4, 2020 at 12:15 pm

      ‘Back’ to the future…..bliss. If only mass tourism hadn’t struck. What a paradise SE. Asia was . Just a few decades after “ Lonely planet” brought the hoards turned Thailand into a bung. Take me back to the ‘60’s, bring it. If only. Imagine Phuket without a single beer bar or bungalow and not a farang for months. Bali same. If you’d seen it all then, you’d cry now. Don’t wish this tourist wasteland on Myanmar. A fate worse than death.

  10. Avatar

    west tiger

    Friday, December 4, 2020 at 2:52 am

    The way Thailand is now it can’t wait that long for tourists to return in any sort of numbers.
    Business’s are closing by the day and millions are out of work. Something needs to be done and now and I’m talking Chinese tourists as they don’t spend money when they are here

  11. Avatar

    James R

    Friday, December 4, 2020 at 3:01 am

    Well, it might take at least a year.

    We in the West will have access to the vaccine far quicker than Thailand and in a well-organized way which means most of us will get the vaccine within a year, we the UK have ordered 120 million doses so far, I expect that to increase once the Oxford vaccine comes online.

    So many of us will not want to travel to countries which have not yet had mass vaccinations just in case so it could be most people will not want to go to Thailand until they ‘catch up’

    I will go to Thailand after having the jab but I know many people are overprotected when it comes to families which might make them go eleswhere.

  12. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Friday, December 4, 2020 at 11:50 am

    Correct me if I am wrong – and I’m sure someone will.
    The Thai tourist figures are simply numbers of foreign arrivals, and do not take into account how long the foreigner stayed in Thailand.
    Some might stay four days. Some a month.
    Some foreign “tourists” might be Malaysian arriving for a weekend.
    This Thai way of calculating tourism is defective.

  13. Avatar

    Brit Mike

    Friday, December 4, 2020 at 7:53 pm

    I find it very interesting reading how Thailand should do this and that , normally to suit our needs .Thailand should be left alone to do it’s own thing. Better the thai way than the absolutely ludicrous way the Americans have handled it. I have a longtime girlfriend in Thailand and can’t wait to see her, I will see her though when Thailand is ready to let me . Trying to force our values and opinions on any other country stinks of elitism.

  14. Avatar

    Ray W.

    Saturday, December 5, 2020 at 9:23 am

    More like 6+, we would have had to open the boards by mid June for a 4 year correction.

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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