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Bank of Thailand issues stark warning over ongoing ban on foreign tourists



PHOTO: Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash

The Bank of Thailand has issued a sombre warning that the ongoing ban on foreign tourists returning to Thailand may have an even worse impact next year. Don Nakornthab, from the BOT’s economic and policy department, says if international tourists are not allowed back into the country soon, Thailand’s tourism industry will face even bigger threats next year.

A report in the Bangkok Post says both the Tourism and Sports Ministry and the National Economic and Social Development Council have already reduced their forecasts of foreign tourists this year to 6.7 million (the vast majority of that number arriving in Q1, 2020) and 12 million for 2021. To put that in context, in 2019, Thailand welcomed nearly 40 million international tourists, with the resulting revenue accounting for nearly 20% of the total Thai GDP.

The month of July was the fourth consecutive month in which Thailand received no foreign tourists. The borders remain largely sealed, while discussions about how to open safely continue. Having successfully suppressed Covid-19, the government appears very wary of opening back up too quickly, potentially inviting a resurgence of the virus. There has been a number of ‘plans’ and ‘models’ announced but there has been no confirmation that any of these are definitely being implemented.

But Don says it’s imperative officials take steps now to re-ignite international tourism and begin repairing the devastated economy.

“If foreign travellers still cannot visit the country, this will impact Thailand’s economic growth more severely next year. The government should strike a balance between tourism measures and outbreak containment.”

The BOT concedes that the possibility of a second wave cannot be ruled out, as shown by places like Hong Kong and Singapore. However, Don maintains that a rate of 20 to 30 new cases a day is probably manageable.

Meanwhile, a further relaxing of Covid-19 restrictions during the month of July has caused a slight improvement in the economy, due to increased public spending. Exports shrank by nearly 12% compared to the same time last year, but this was less than the nearly 25% contraction seen in June. But, while employment figures have improved slightly, due to a reduction in the number of employees affected by the temporary closure of their place of work, the overall picture remains bleak.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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