Prediction for international travellers to Thailand lowered again

PHOTO: The number of international tourists expected to come to Thailand this year has fallen again. (via Flickr Toastmonster)

Tourism researchers have once again downgraded their expectations for the total number of international travellers in 2021 after Thailand has yet to recover from the third wave of Covid-19 starting in April that brought the Delta various and huge infection numbers across the country.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand, known for its rose-tinted predictions and press releases, had predicted in January that 2021 would bring 3 million international travellers. They later revised that target to 1.2 million visitors, but now say they expect to hit only 300,000 international travellers by the end of the year. Always the eternal optimist, the TAT says their targets are still achievable as they look forward to a booming fourth quarter that sees reopenings in Pattaya, Chiang Mai, and Hua Hin drawing in droves of international tourists.

Kasikorn Research Centre, whose predictions perhaps tend to be a bit more grounded and less head-in-the-clouds, have likewise downgraded their already low prediction. They had previously projected about 250,000 international travellers arriving in Thailand this year, a far cry from the TAT’s 1.2 million target. They now are forecasting a total of just 150,000 visitors from abroad for the entirety of 2021.

Covid-19 is the obvious culprit in these declines, with 1.2 million people in Thailand being infected and 12,000 people dying, about a 1% death rate. Even in Sandbox areas like Phuket and Koh Samui, Covid-19 numbers shot up. Phuket is seeing a string of deaths daily this week with hospitals nearing capacity. And Koh Samui, where there had been virtually no Covid-19 for the entire pandemic, has seen low interest in its reopening and is now experiencing several large clusters, stemming from illegal clubs, illegal parties and gyms.

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And the high Covid-19 numbers in Thailand has led to the country being placed on red lists around the world so travellers from the UK for example will now have to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days upon returning from Thailand, driving away tourists.

All this, coupled with Thailand’s strict entry policies that require full vaccination, multiple prepaid tests, hotels booked and paid in advance and more, has driven a severe decline in tourism. The first half of 2021 saw just 58,503 travellers arrive, compared with 6.7 million last year which is still several times lower than pre-pandemic figures. Those numbers equate to a 99% drop in international travellers this year.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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