Songkran a litmus test for Thailand’s economic recovery, tourism industry revival

A view of Khao San Road in Bangkok before the pandemic. This year, businesses on the tourism hotspot opted to cancel their Songkran celebrations, as the government imposed strict Covid-prevention measures and liabilities for business owners who would apply to hold social-distanced celebrations. Credit: Marcin Konsek | Wikimedia

As Thailand’s annual Songkran festival begins this week, all eyes are on the government to see how its strict Covid-prevention measures will affect tourism spending and mitigate new infections, which are expected to spike after the holiday.

As the war in Ukraine continues to hike up global oil and food prices, pundits say how Thailand fares during and after the festival will be a litmus test for the health of the nation’s economy for the rest of the year.

Kasikorn Research Centre expects Omicron variant infections to peak after the holiday. Meanwhile, the Public Health Ministry has warned of post-Songkran daily infections in the 100,000 range — if residents don’t strictly follow the Covid prevention measures.

This year, the government is once again imposing strict limitations on festival activities, including a water splashing ban, which has deterred many local hoteliers from holding Songkran celebrations to attract international tourists, as the tourism industry looks to the domestic market for profits this year.

Already, experts are predicting a less than spectacular week for tourism spending, with fewer people predicted to travel back to their hometowns during the so-called Seven Dangerous Days, when road traffic is usually the most congested and risky.

According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, although the tourism industry will likely see an improvement in domestic tourism spending during Songkran, it will not be enough to revive the industry, which last year contributed just less than 10% of the nation’s GDP.

That single-digit tourism statistics alone represents a 20% reduction from the nation’s pre-pandemic GDP, according to TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn, who says domestic tourists are insufficient to effectively revive Thailand’s tourism industry…

“Further relaxation is necessary for the tourism industry. We started this process last year and should not be left behind. However, any decision will depend on public health authorities weighing the importance of the economy and local confidence, as some people remain concerned about the viral situation in the country.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

Songkran a litmus test for Thailand's economic recovery, tourism industry revival | News by Thaiger

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