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Possibility of an “end of year travel boost” has been shattered

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PHOTO: Matichon Weekly

As if things weren’t already bad enough for Thailand’s tourism sector, the events in Samut Sakhon in the past week have just made them a lot worse. Just as the few hotels open in Thailand’s major tourist hot spots were hoping for a bounce in traffic over Christmas and New Year, the hopes have been largely dashed by the outbreak in Samut Sakhon and threats of impending lockdowns and restrictions as the outbreak extends beyond the provincial borders. Even if the ‘bounce’ would have been mostly domestic traffic, ANYTHING would have been welcomed after a disastrous year for Thailand’s tourism and hospitality industries.

The outbreak of Covid-19 around the seafood industry hub on the coast, south west of Bangkok, has produced 1,000+ positive infections. The outbreak has occurred mostly in the migrant worker population, hired for their cheap and available labour resource, many from neighbouring Myanmar.

The province has been locked down until at least January 3. A curfew and restrictions on travel have been introduced.

Now, threats of another nationwide lockdown or restrictions on domestic travel could be the final straw for many tourism-related companies, according to Phuket Hotel Association President Anthony Lark. Anthony is also the MD for Trisara, the upscale resort set amongst Phuket’s northern beach tourist strip.

“Everyone’s losing money and just trying to break even. If the government can’t control the virus, and any domestic air travel or inter-provincial travel restrictions are introduced, then you will absolutely see hotel, restaurant and boat owners mothball their businesses.”

“Domestic travellers from Bangkok account for 99% of Phuket’s tourists since the nation closed its borders late March. Before the pandemic, foreign tourists comprised two-thirds of the island province’s visitors but contributed about 90% of Phuket’s tourism revenue.”

The total tourist arrivals for the first nine months of this year stand at only 6.7 million compared to almost 40 million in the same period last year. Of those 6.7 million, the vast majority visited during Q1 before the border closures.

Bangkok hotels have seen the average occupancy drop to as low as 6.7% in April after the country went into lockdown but managed to recover slightly to 13.7% in Q3 2020, solely relying on ‘staycation’ travel. Whilst the Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha tried to allay fears yesterday, he noted that it would take “about a week to assess whether more stringent curbs are needed”.

When the CCSA spokesperson Dr Taweesin Visanuyothin was asked by the media yesterday if the current Samut Sakhon lockdown could extend to other provinces, or Bangkok, he simply answered… “It hasn’t happened yet”.

Over the past month the Thai government has slowly removed some restrictions for international travel back into Thailand, whilst keeping the mandatory 14 day quarantine in place. But much of that will likely be put on hold as the CCSA get a grip on the extent of the current outbreak and the success of mitigating the cluster.

Foreign tourist arrivals generated more than $60 billion in revenue last year.

 

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Maag

    Tuesday, December 22, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    I canceled my Xmas week end , covid every where……so scared !

  2. Avatar

    Baht seven

    Tuesday, December 22, 2020 at 3:25 pm

    A few less hotels would be a great improvement. Most are over priced and have crappy service and meals. Especially the breakfast buffet.

  3. Avatar

    Geoff

    Tuesday, December 22, 2020 at 4:51 pm

    Heartbreaking.

  4. Avatar

    Peter

    Tuesday, December 22, 2020 at 5:18 pm

    Welcome to the real world.
    Where’s all the alright jack brigade?
    Stuck in Thailand, BKK closed.
    Let the party begin!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Avatar

      Stefan Svensson

      Tuesday, December 22, 2020 at 9:15 pm

      What party???

  5. Avatar

    Patrick Nouvel

    Tuesday, December 22, 2020 at 5:51 pm

    What is sure, lot of hardly surviving biz will die again… More thousands jobs too, increase of suicides never stated.. For 90 to 95% of limited thousands carrier asymthomatics, few cired ar home, less than few in hospitals, and tiny numbers death for mostly side easons surely less than many other never day to day counted factors to brush up the paranoia.. Keep washing hands, wear masks, distanciation, no large crowd gathering should be more than enough

  6. Avatar

    Ian

    Tuesday, December 22, 2020 at 6:01 pm

    Yep I’ve said it would come for weeks now it has, its invisible the authorities can’t stop it at the border it’s toured the world now it’s Thailand’s turn good luck prime minister and all that maybe it might find you nobody’s safe from it remember this

  7. Avatar

    Johnny Dee

    Tuesday, December 22, 2020 at 10:05 pm

    Guys if you’re struggling on places to go I’m in Sosua Dominican Republic it’s booming plenty of BIG BOOTY the place is bouncing just a thought guys

  8. Avatar

    Patrick Kelly

    Wednesday, December 23, 2020 at 5:36 am

    A lockdown similar to Wuhan is impossible in Thailand. What the Chinese did in that city is indeed impressive.
    Unfortunately it looks like this outbreak is gonna spread. Test more, find more. & blame the surrounding countries . The Kingdom never disappoints.

  9. Avatar

    Bigsleazypappa

    Wednesday, December 23, 2020 at 6:00 pm

    What the Chinese’s did in wuhan is impressive?? What about what the Chinese’s have done allover the world from Wuhan it should never have happened!!!

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