TAT governor says tourism sector must learn lessons from pandemic

PHOTO: Cristiano Pinto on Unsplash

The governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand says the sector must take on board the lessons of Covid-19, including the need to shift to a “value over volume” tourism model. Yuthasak Supasorn says, should a second wave of Covid-19 engulf the world in 2021, effective risk management will be crucial in overcoming the challenges thrown up by the outbreak.

He points to the fact that most tourism-related businesses, in particular airlines, are facing the prospect of bankruptcy. Looking at the TAT’s most optimistic forecast for 2021, which assumes a vaccine will be available from the beginning of the year, and that foreign tourists will return in the second quarter without prompting a Covid outbreak, it’s hoped over 20 million tourists would visit Thailand, which is nearly half that of 2019. They would generate around 980 billion baht, again half that of 2019.

The TAT expects that, in 2021, over 16 million foreign visitors will come from the Asia-Pacific region, with Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas accounting for nearly 4 million arrivals. Yuthasak anticipates that the number of domestic trips taken by locals will increase 10% from 2020, generating around 570 billion baht for the economy. He says areas within driving distance of Bangkok are likely to be the first to benefit, adding that local tourists will consist primarily of Thai citizens (80% of whom are expected to be from Bangkok), expats, and workers from the commercial and state sectors.

“Senior tourists used to be the target group for our industry. But with this new-normal model, high-value tourists with good health will be our first priority.”

The Bangkok Post reports that the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index currently ranks Thailand 88 out of 140 countries for health and hygiene, and 111 out of 140 for safety and security. The TAT hopes to use the lessons learnt from the pandemic, including the need for a more sustainable tourism model, to improve those rankings.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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