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Record number of tourism firms quitting Covid-ravaged sector for good

Maya Taylor




As the devastating economic effects of Covid-19 restrictions persist, a record number of Thai tourism operators are quitting the sector for good. The number of tourism firms surrendering their licences peaked last month, and around 70% of outbound agents have shut up shop indefinitely. The final nail in their collective coffin has been the Covid-19 resurgence, which originated in a seafood market in the central province of Samut Sakhon and has now spread to over 60 provinces.

The president of the Thai Travel Agents Association says around 10% of outbound tour operators have returned their licences to the Tourism Department. Suthiphong Pheunphiphop says 2,598 tourism operators have left the sector for good, unable to survive having no international tourists for nearly a year now. He says the last quarter of 2020 saw the highest number of companies de-registering, at 765. Of those, 293 quit last month.

Suthiphong says domestic tourism may pick up again by April, but this depends on how effective the government is at bringing the second wave of the virus under control. He adds that with the arrival of spring in many parts of the world in the coming months, global infections may fall, but it’s still a waiting game.

“Operators have to wait and see how things turn out in June The outlook for the outbound market is the most difficult to predict as the industry faces highly uncertain factors such as vaccine efficacy and policies in each destination to allow the flow of tourists.”

The TTAA says that in 2019, 11 million Thai tourists spent 430 billion baht on overseas trips. Last year, that plummeted to 1 million spending 50 billion baht. The association has postponed the Thai International Travel Fair, which was due to take place in February. It is now scheduled for August 26 – 29.

According to a Bangkok Post report, the Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn will meet Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin this week, in order to discuss a co-payment scheme to protect those employed in the tourism industry. It’s understood the proposal is to subsidise 50% of monthly salaries, up to a maximum of 7,500 baht per employee.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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  1. Avatar

    Andy W

    Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 11:04 am

    I’d guess the TTAA 2020 estimated income is an overestimate, as it probably includes a large portion of expat resident expenditure. Add to that the spending of tourists trapped here which isn’t really ‘tourism’ income so not really a good estimate to use for future stats.

  2. Avatar


    Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 11:14 am

    Just the beginning of the end !

  3. Avatar

    Patrick Kelly

    Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 11:24 am

    Draconian shutdown of the tourist sector will be with us for longer than anticipated. It’s always the way with feckless government . April is a pipe dream ! I laugh out loud when I think about full jets flying into SUV .
    Thailand will be last to recover. This is just the middle innings of this nightmare.

    • Avatar

      Andy W

      Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 12:16 pm

      If they reduce the number of flights then a few of them could be full…
      But they will need to do some seriously reduce the number of flights..555

  4. Avatar


    Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 11:27 am

    Where are the vaccinations??????

    • Avatar


      Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 3:57 pm

      Could it be that the Thai government thought that Thailand was invincible to covid, and didn’t bother to order any?

      • Avatar

        Issan John

        Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 9:16 pm

        Rather obviously, ‘No’.

        • Avatar

          James R

          Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 12:23 am

          Issan John

          You have only been told what they want you to know, you do not know what they have or have not done.

          Wait and see, but it does not look promising as they left the orders far too late.

    • Avatar

      James R

      Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 12:21 am


      They are on order, you might get some in a year from now.

  5. Avatar


    Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 11:39 am

    When Thailand finally reopens (translation drops the quarantine), there will be a small short bump and then a long run of flat. It will be a soft reboot for quite some time, think most of a year and half. Only the most fearless will be willing to sit in a plane for 12-18 hours and risk being in a different continent if things go bad again. That’s not even taking into account all the changes happening globally in the next few years. It’s just going to take time.

    • Avatar


      Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 12:52 pm

      Hell, things could change here whilst you are sat in the plane!

      • Avatar


        Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 11:39 pm

        Something could happen to the plane itself….

    • Avatar


      Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 6:45 pm

      IMO if Thailand drops quarantine and throws open the boardeers in the near future there will be a spike in cases followed by the government closing them back down tighter than a ducks backside for quite a long time.

  6. Avatar


    Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 8:28 pm

    Advanced economies could be reopening their borders later in the year, once their citizens are vaccinated.
    It will be a race between holiday destinations to see who can pull the most tourists.
    That will depend on which destination countries get their citizens vaccinated first.
    Plenty of things will be different in the New Normal, but tourism could reasonably resume just as before.
    Till then, Thailand is doing its best to vaccinate its citizens, invest in rebuilding an attractive tourist offering, and now a scheme to tide the Thai business sector over until operations resume.
    A slip would see permanent damage to one of Thailand’s three legs to its economy and civil unrest on a hitherto unimagined scale. People want bread. It really is 100% in the hands of the military government.

    • Avatar

      Peter Nielsen

      Monday, February 8, 2021 at 4:47 am

      “…once their cotizens are vaccinated.”

      Only the fragile ones need vaccination. The vaccines are nearly 100% efficient, why those who take it, are safe.

  7. Avatar

    Issan John

    Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 9:23 pm

    Agreed. 1,000%.

    It’s taken the UK a year to realise that closing its borders isn’t an option but a necessity, while Thailand and others realised that very early on – hopefully they won’t throw all that’s achieved, as well as cost.

  8. Avatar

    Issan John

    Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 9:27 pm

    The key point some have missed, here and elsewhere, is that these are “OUTBOUND agents” and “OUTBOUND tour operators” closing, for Thais going OUT, not foreigners coming in.

  9. Avatar

    James R

    Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 12:27 am

    Just sit tight and was it for the virus to be beaten like the rest of the world is doing.

    Tourisms is dead anyway, it is obvious.

    • Avatar

      James R but not the other James R

      Sunday, January 24, 2021 at 1:16 am

      James R

      There are two James R writing on this blog then.

  10. Avatar

    west tiger

    Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 2:27 am

    Millions of jobs are being lost here and will never return.People are not going to come here and spend the first 2 weeks of their holiday in a overpriced hotel. Tourists will just go to other countries are are welcoming without having to jump through hoops

  11. Avatar


    Saturday, January 23, 2021 at 6:13 pm

    translation: UK government took some time to make a catastrophic mistske of destrying its own economy, livelihood and health of millions and provoked long term damage.
    In doing so, it copied a dictatorial communist autocracy and/or a third world military junta in SEA.
    And, madame “Issan John”, go back to your cats and long lonely walks. One day maybe, only maybe, you will get a passport and travel abroad for the first time. Although, clock is ticking…..

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