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Minister says lack of foreign visitors will have knock-on effect for domestic tourism

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: www.santorinidave.com

The Tourism Minister says Thailand can expect a significant drop in domestic tourism unless international tourism is revived. According to a Bangkok Post report, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn says local tourism figures are 40% of what they were in 2019, and are expected to drop further once the domestic travel stimulus scheme ends at the end of the year. The scheme has gone through multiple extensions since its introduction in July, with recent calls to extend it to December 2021.

Phiphat says a tough year lies ahead and that Thailand’s recovery will be more challenging than after the 1997 Asian financial crisis, due to the broader economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. He adds that the return of foreign tourists is essential to economic recovery and says that, while the Special Tourist Visa is a start, it is not enough.

“We have a precarious year for domestic tourism waiting for us in 2021, with the number of trips and receipts possibly going down to 15% of 2019. We shouldn’t expect big things from the STV, but it can prepare local communities for a return of international arrivals and pave the way for further relaxation of restrictions in the next phase.”

The minister says that during trips to 5 or 6 provinces, local business operators told him they fear for their survival if the current situation continues. The Tourism Ministry has agreed a recovery fund worth 50 -100 billion baht in order to help, which has been submitted to the Finance Ministry for approval.

“At least 50% of tourism-related businesses will permanently close if they cannot receive any effective measures from the government until the middle of next year. But we cannot let them disappear, because Thailand will be short on businesses that can accommodate tourists when things hopefully pick up.”

The government had been considering reducing quarantine from 14 days to 10, for arrivals from “low-risk” countries, but that proposal has now been shelved. Last week, it was reported that officials are planning talks with China regarding the formation of a no-quarantine travel bubble between both countries. Phiphat says it’s hoped the scheme can be put in place in time for Chinese New Year in February.

“Now, we need every segment of the tourism industry to help bring about a recovery. But this will depend on how each country lets their citizens easily fly back and forth.”

It’s understood talks are also planned with officials in Japan, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand, although the latter 2 have strict restrictions on overseas travel at this time. The South Korean embassy says golfers will be permitted to travel to Thailand for training, provided they quarantine. The Thai government is considering a proposal to use golf courses with hotel accommodation as alternative local state quarantine facilities.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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