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TAT governor says tourism sector must learn lessons from pandemic

Maya Taylor

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TAT governor says tourism sector must learn lessons from pandemic | Thaiger
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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Tourism

Pattaya tourism remains open without quarantine, for now anyway

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Pattaya tourism remains open without quarantine, for now anyway | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Pattaya welcomes tourists.

As province after province closes down more sectors, imposing stricter regulations, administers mandatory Covid-19 testing, and enacts quarantines for domestic travellers (in some cases), Pattaya is taking a different approach: heartily welcoming tourists to their city.

Colourful Pattaya Mayor Sonthaya Kunplome spoke yesterday saying that everyone from everywhere is welcome in Pattaya, and will not be required to quarantine or self-quarantine for 2 weeks. The lack of isolation may encourage travellers depressed over cancelled Songkran holiday festivities and trips.

But the decision os not his The Governor of Chin Buri will be making the call whether to impose additional restrictions for people coming to Pattaya, especially from the 3 hot zone districts in Bangkok.

But he maintains, rather than shutting down completely, the city of Pattaya had called upon all of its employees to work together to create an environment safe for tourists. The staff are deployed throughout the city to implement and enforce Covid-19 safety protocols and monitor them to make sure locals and tourists follow regulations and keep Pattaya safe from Coronavirus spread.

While bars, nightclubs, and massage shops remain necessarily closed by order of the CCSA, Pattaya city officials are working hard to keep popular tourism areas like Koh Larn and Pattaya Beach Road open to travellers to enjoy. City hall is working with volunteers and local police and enacting measures like allowing parking on both sides of the beach roads to try to help tourists and vendors in Pattaya to have a safe and enjoyable Songkran holiday.

This alternative approach stands in stark contrast to most of the rest of the nation where Songkran celebrations were cancelled and semi-lockdowns are in place. 2 days ago 37 Thai provinces imposed a 14 day quarantine on travellers from Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Nakhon Pathum and Samut Prakan – areas around Bangkok that are now considered a Red Zone for Covid-19 infections.

Phuket is currently another holdout, with minimal restrictions on tourists visiting, for the time being anyway.

SOURCE: Pattaya Mail

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Hotel blog suggests Phuket should push ahead with July reopening despite Covid surge

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Hotel blog suggests Phuket should push ahead with July reopening despite Covid surge | Thaiger
PHOTO: Hotels and other tourism business are hoping the July 1st reopening goal can still be achieved.

A hotel information blog is claiming that, despite growing Covid-19 numbers, Phuket should stick to its schedule in reopening to travellers without quarantine in July. That’s only 2 and a half months away.

In an interview with the Director of Travel and Tourism Consulting at GlobalData, they stressed that while it is crucial to rein in the spread of Covid-19 and the B117 strain now menacing Thailand, the risk must not overshadow the need to push forward with vaccinations and the march towards eliminating the quarantine by July in order to save the tourism industry and all those dependent on it.

“The Phuket pilot program is essential in creating a path towards economic recovery for Thailand, a country heavily dependent on tourism. More than 17% of Thailand’s gross domestic product is attributed to tourism and the Covid-19 pandemic has lead to the worst economic free-fall in over 20 years”

The blog acknowledges the inherent risk and possible appearance of foolishness to prioritise the plans to reopen and carry on with the same rollout schedule. But they urge Thai authorities to consider that July 1 is still 2 and a half months away, leaving ample time to recover and make progress towards the approaching Phuket reopening. A vital aspect of the reopening plan lies in vaccinating over 70% of Phuket’s provincial residents, a sizable task, but one that brings great benefit with or without the scheduled reopening.

“Pushing ahead to achieve this goal puts Phuket on track to welcome back tourists, perhaps in a “bio-bubble”, and restart the economy. The economy is desperate with household debt growing, pushing the government to enact emergency decrees to provide relief. These households need the return of tourism and the influx of cash international tourists will bring.”

The blog hopes that Thai authorities can balance the necessary Covid-19 safety measures in Phuket to protect the Thai population with the economic need to bring back tourism. They believe that with sufficient measures in place, vaccinated locals could welcome vaccinated international tourists back to Phuket reopening safely in July.

SOURCE: Hotel News Resource

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Chiang Mai

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half

Tim Newton

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Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | Thaiger

The TAT, ever the optimists regarding anything tourism related, even domestic tourism, predict that the Bangkok clusters that have emerged in the week before the Songkran break could reduce traffic and spending by up to half.

Today the CCSA is reporting 789 new infections and one additional death. 522 were local infections, mostly walk-ins to Bangkok hospitals, 259 were discovered through track and tracing. The remaining 8 were found in quarantine from overseas arrivals. In Phuket, another 17 cases have been reported today, taking the island’s week total to 43.

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | News by ThaigerGRAPH: Worldometer figures for Thailand, up to April 9

A 68 year old man from Nakhon Pathom province died on April 4 but wasn’t reported until today. The CCSA report that he died from Covid and “complications”. 33 other former patients have recovered and been discharged.

Last week the TAT estimated 3.2 million domestic trips would circulate 12 billion baht for the Thai economy. But the Tourism Authority has now slashed their estimates by half after hotels, airlines and bus companies reported mass cancellations in the last few days. Other provinces are reporting less than 20% cancellations. Although this weekend will see a lot of travel, Songkran doesn’t formally start until next Tuesday and the TAT expect there could be additional fallout as travellers decide to have a staycation for Songkran instead heading home.

Bangkok Post reports that 70% of travellers to Prachuap Khiri Khan and Hua Hin have already cancelled hotel bookings. Similar cancellations have been reported in Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Many other provinces, particularly in the north east and north, are also enforcing quarantine on arrivals or additional paperwork to try and protect their provinces from any of the Bangkok clusters.

8 north eastern provinces rare now requiring 10 or 14 day quarantine periods for anyone arriving from areas where new clusters have been reported. Chiang Mai provincial officials say that tourists from Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathom, Bangkok, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi – basically Bangkok and surrounding provinces – must complete a 14 day mandatory quarantine or conduct a test for Covid when they arrive.

The reality is that the travel and quarantine changes are outstripping the ability to communicate them all. Anyone crossing into other provinces in the next few day, especially if you’re travelling from Bangkok and surrounding provincial ‘red zones’ can expect some additional paperwork or a Covid test. Or even quarantine.

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