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

Maya Taylor



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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  1. Avatar

    William Binn

    Tuesday, September 1, 2020 at 12:56 pm

    Thailand faces a grim choice, it can have tourism with widespread covid or it can stay closed up, but it can not have tourism without covid spreading through the country, there is no middle ground. All the data available from other countries shows this to be the case.

    Its second delema is that Thailand has traditional multi generational households (generally 3 generations) and if covid gets into the broader community it will pose a massive threat as it will be impossible to isolate the elderly/vulnerable, from the younger generations that will predomanently remain asymtomatic and spread the virus unknowningly.

    The third delema is in the Govts refusal to look at the real facts about its GDP and economy. The “tourism” industry is not about how many fatang pass through an airport, its about how much money is spent in the wider community and where its spent. They may choose to look strictly at the formal sector and survey the 5 star hotels to make their assumption of a 15-19% GDP number, but in reality there is a massive informal tourist economy that effects tens of millions of Thai people and business’s. This is not the tshirt seller, this is flow on economy from the million or more bar ladies. They all purchase food from the street venders, get their clothes laundered, rent rooms, pay bills, and send the bulk of their income home to support an extended family, not to memtion all the “boyfriends” remitences from overseas. In the great fight to save face the Govt has refused to acknowledge their existance and include them in any type of covid fimancial aid, and that doesnt just effect the lady but her whole extended family. The ripple effect from this is being felt far and wide. One room is now occupied by 4 ladies and 3 rooms are vacant. The payments on motorbike loans are not paid. Mama noodles are the economic choice and the bbq cart is struggling, as is the chicken farmer, and the chicken feed producers. The realestate financial problems are coming as these same ladies are no longer able to service their bank debts for land and house building.

    The catch 22 is unfathomable, the reality is hard to face and it is a guarenteed loser at the next election regardless of the choice made, but delaying the choice is not going to work for long either.

    The only thing that is certain is that the Phucket quaratine bubble will not work in its proposed form due to the charactorists of this virus. You either need to isolate each and every guest from the other guests for 14 days or you will have an outbreak. The minute you have an outbreak the staff will try to flee due to the superstition and fear that has been built up (needlessly) about the virus. Those fleeing staff will spread it as the go and the whole 6 month quarantine/lockdowns/restrictions will have been for naught, and then they will start again destroying what is left of the economy.

    I do not envy the choices to come, but the true science needs to be used or thousands will die needlessly, my family may even be among those numbers.

    Perhaps the “ministers” should get some plain clothes and go hang out at the bars in Pattaya (and other places) buy the ladies some drinks and ask questions, they will be only to happy to fill you in on what is really going on below the shiny surface that is the highclass hotel bars of Bangkok. Heck, im happy to introduce you and get the conversation started if you like.


    • Avatar

      The Thaiger & The Nation

      Tuesday, September 1, 2020 at 3:14 pm

      Thanks for your well-considered comment. We’ve published it separately. TT

    • Avatar


      Tuesday, September 1, 2020 at 5:51 pm

      Make sense mate.In actual covit wont kill them economy will.Let see how tough they are.Money or covit.

    • Avatar

      Stephen Westrip

      Thursday, September 3, 2020 at 7:13 pm

      It is not tourism that will bring widespread COVID, at least not entirely. It has been seen in many countries that as soon as you allow people to travel around the country, open up peoples homes to visitors, etc. that is what raises the infection rate. Letting in tourists that have tested negative will NOT increase the infection rate – how could it? The only way the infection rate can increase within a country is through lack of widespread testing and therefore the lack of knowledge as to where the local hotspots may be. I feel that it is in this specific area that Thailand is lacking.

  2. Avatar

    Bobby m

    Tuesday, September 1, 2020 at 1:48 pm

    At least somebody at the bank of Thailand understands.

    “ 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.”

    Now all he needs to do is (if you will forgive the pun) is get the penny to drop with the government.

  3. Avatar

    Anh Lam

    Tuesday, September 1, 2020 at 4:20 pm

    The banks should have no say in opening or keeoing borfers closed. As the Bank of Thailand official states, ITS ALL ABIUT MONEY! Money money money… Does not mater about people health to him or anyome attached to the TOT ministry.. One needs to look at the daily infection rates brought in by local people as well as folks from countries with high infection rates. Who is paying for their treatments and testing? Look whats happening in Vietnam, Aruba, Hong Kong, indonesia and the rest of the high rate countries. Its all about money. Im all for the grass root thai people, affraid of the 2nd Wave, keep the door shut! People will survive! For all the foreign tourists already here, folliw the Socilal Distancing Rules and wear your mask on your face and not on your chin. Stop Jabbet Jawing when i approach you to make you aware of such ignorance.. Your country may have high infection rates, dont come here and spread the virus.

    • Avatar

      Khaja Sarfaraj Mansur

      Tuesday, September 1, 2020 at 9:45 pm

      ‘afraid of the 2nd Wave’!!!!!! ”keep the door shut! People will survive!” ”don’t come here and spread the virus.” !!!!!!!

      Well I have some questions for you…..

      *How long you will keep the door shut? Is that the only solution to contain Covid-19?

      *How long you can keep 0 virus? How much logical is this to close border and destroy whole economy to keep 0 virus, where it can come into your country from other sources.

      *Are you waiting for effective vaccine? You really think Vaccine is the solution? Because still there is no effective vaccine. When you think, Whole Thai population can be vaccinated? How long you should wait for this? Can Thailand Economy sustain that Long?

      *20% GDP(Actual number surly is far more) dependent on Tourism, Can really Thailand afford to shut it’s border like other countries do?

      *Are you certain about the severity of this virus in recent time? Are you sure it remains as deadly as it used to be in earlier Months? No one knows actual covid cases, as most of the country don’t have enough testing capacity. So it is obvious that actual death rate is far far less.

      Every country on this earth have to learn to live with Corona Virus.

      • Avatar


        Wednesday, September 2, 2020 at 6:11 pm

        Yes, how long to you strangle the economy to death because of irrational fears of a disease with an infection fatality ratio of less than 1%? Especially when scientific evidence is pointing to the real possibility that 40-60% of the population is immune.

  4. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Tuesday, September 1, 2020 at 4:20 pm

    The government do not care – they are collecting their money, and have effectively banned elections.
    It is up to the citizens of Thailand to force them out of office. and install a new government that will remedy the present economic disaster.

  5. Avatar


    Thursday, September 3, 2020 at 10:21 pm

    It‘s a fact, that Thailand let in everyone the first three months of this year, when the pandemic was in full flow already. And yet the numbers of infections and deaths were very low.

    What is the explanations for that? And why are so-called expert still telling, that Thailand can‘t handle tourism. It handled tourism three months during the pandemic without any regulations.

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