83% drop in foreign tourists expected by the end of 2020

PHOTO: Unsplash: Joy Presbitero

Travel restrictions brought on by the Thai government, as a response to the coronavirus pandemic, have contributed to a drastic decline in number of foreign tourists with an expected drop of 83% from last year’s count of 39.8 million foreign tourists to this year’s predicted total of 6.74 million foreign tourists, according to President of the Tourism Council of Thailand Chairat Trirattanajarasporn.

The country’s borders are slowly opening back up, very slowly, with hopes that international tourists will help revive Thailand’s crippled tourism-dependent economy. Only 50,000 foreign tourists are expected for the fourth quarter of 2020. That’s a 99.5% drop from the year prior.

“Foreign tourist receipts for the quarter are down 99% with 4.5 billion baht in expenditures.”

Next year could be better, but the future is still unclear. Tourism officials have predicted 20 million foreign tourists will visit Thailand 2021, but Chairat says it’s still hard to know what next year will be like.

“If there is no vaccine and we still have a 14 day quarantine, I expect only hundreds of thousands of tourists next year.”

Thailand introduced the Special Tourist Visa to allow people to visit the country on a 90 stay that can be renewed twice, adding up to about 9 months. The move is expected to help revive the tourism industry, especially in areas that have heavily relied on international tourists like Phuket.

But only a limited number of people will be entering the country at a time on the Special Tourist Visa. The first group, around 120 to 150 tourists, will fly from China to Phuket next week. They are required to quarantine for 14 days at a certified facility.

The government might drop the 14 day quarantine in the next couple months for tourists from countries classified as low risk for spreading Covid-19. President of the Association of Thai Travel Agents Vichit Prakobogsol says the industry will pitch the idea to the government with hopes that the tourists can travel to Thailand without a quarantine by December.

SOURCE: Reuters

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Caitlin Ashworth

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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