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Thailand depending on Chinese travellers for tourist reboot

Jack Burton

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Thailand depending on Chinese travellers for tourist reboot | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The Phuket News
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Thailand is looking to China to rebuild its battered travel industry. As the Covid-19 pandemic subsides in Asia, countries are discussing the idea of “travel bubbles,” in which reciprocal nations establish guidelines that enable their citizens to move freely across their borders. The wider tourism industry accounts for 18-20% of Thailand’s GDP and provides jobs for almost a tenth of Thais, according to the International Labour Organisation.

But with borders closed and planes grounded around the world, (Thailand has currently banned all passenger arrivals except Thai returnees and diplomats until at least June 30), this core of the Thai economy faces a very uncertain future. The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s best case scenario is that 14-16 million people will visit this year, more than the 8.5 million projected by the Thai Chamber of Commerce, but far fewer than last year’s record of 39.8 million, a figure that made it Southeast Asia’s most popular tourism destination. And yesterday a TAT spokesman made the nation’s position clear:

“China will remain Thailand’s and Asia’s biggest outbound tourist market.”

Chinese accounted for more than a quarter of tourists who visited Thailand last year, and their importance has been magnified by the Covid-19 pandemic. Long haul travel is not expected to rebound quickly, and Thailand’s tourism strategy is now focused on domestic travel and the short haul travellers who are most likely to return first – the Chinese.

With a population of 1.4 billion, the rising middle class now have the travel bug and have become the world’s most numerous tourist market in many destinations, especially around Asia.

Rebuilding this market is crucial not only to resurrecting Thailand’s economy, but also those of neighbouring nations like Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. The ability of these countries to refloat their own tourism industries depends largely on Thailand’s reopening, as the airports of Bangkok serve as a hub for the region. But it won’t be easy as Thailand faces increased competition from regional competitors like Vietnam and the Philippines, both of which were in the midst of their own tourism booms before the virus struck. It will also face competition from China itself, where the pandemic has boosted interest in domestic travel.

“We cannot leave it too late to prepare for Chinese arrivals. International competition for this market is bound to be intense.”

Complicating matters is the fact that wholesale group travel, previously the sector’s backbone, is unlikely to bounce back swiftly. A survey by industry consultancy C9 Hotelworks found that 71% of Chinese planning foreign travel in 2020 would consider travelling to Thailand, and 83% of that group said they would want to go as independent travellers. The consultancy also believes older travellers will be slower to return to the market, noting that more than 80% of those who responded to its survey were between the ages of 20 and 40.

But there was good news for Thailand. Half of those surveyed said they would spend 15,000 yuan (67,000 baht) per trip.

C9 managing director Bill Barnett says targeting those predisposed to travel is a good way to drum up business in a short period.

At this stage it is unlikely that any tourists are going anywhere soon as borders remain closed, travel bans are still in place, airlines remain grounded and financially reluctant or unable to ramp up international flights quickly. In Thailand the borders remain closed, except for Thai repatriates, until at least June 30. Even when they open it has not yet been announced the conditions on which foreigners will be able to travel to Thailand, which countries they will be accepted and the types of insurances required. The world’s discretionary income has also plummeted as the Covid-19 recession starts to bite.

But if anyone is likely to be the first wave of post-Covid tourists, it’s most probable to be from China.

SOURCE: SCMP

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Clyde James

    May 24, 2020 at 4:10 pm

    This is very sad news for non-Chinese foreign nationals that are separated from their Thai families. Other countries, such as the USA, are allowing the foreign national spouse to enter along with their citizens as they are repatriated. There are thousands of ex-pats that are separated from their Thai families. Can’t something be done to help re-unite them!

  2. Avatar

    ex expat

    May 25, 2020 at 10:57 pm

    Clyde James Thailand wants to become an exclusive Chinese resort.
    What to do to expats in Thailand for the Chinese?It will be another Thailand. There will be no infrastructure for western foreigners. Better to take your family and leave Thailand than try to come to Chinaland;)The era of Western tourists in Thailand is over.

    • Avatar

      Marty

      May 27, 2020 at 10:51 am

      Agree

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Thailand

Poll shows majority of Thais still worry about coronavirus

Jack Burton

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Poll shows majority of Thais still worry about coronavirus | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thailand Medical News

Although there have been no locally transmitted Covid-19 cases in Thailand for 41 days, a majority of locals are still worried about the spread of the virus, according to the most recent survey by Suan Dusit Rajabhat University, better know simply as the Suan Dusit Poll.

The survey was conducted between July 1-4, on 1,109 people throughout the kingdom to gather their opinions on the Covid-19 crisis, now that the government has loosened many restrictions and is allowing people to travel to their home provinces during the July 4-6 long weekend.

When asked if they still worry about the coronavirus spread now that there have been no domestic infections for over a month, 52.9% said they still worry about it but to a lesser degree; around 29.9% said they worry about it as much as before; 12.4% no longer worry about it and 4.7% said they worry more.

The highest number, 39.4%, expect the Covid-19 situation to return to normal by the end of the year; 27.9% said mid-2021; 23.9% by the end of 2021 and 8.7% said it’s was hard to predict, but the situation might improve if a vaccine becomes available.

Asked what they want the government to do after the situation improves, 77.5% said it should remain strictly vigilant against the virus; 71.8% want it to introduce more remedial measures; 69.4% want the government to concentrate on creating jobs; 65.6% want it to help people who have been laid off and 57.3% said they want it to promote domestic tourism.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Thai PM expresses concern over “travel bubbles”

Jack Burton

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Thai PM expresses concern over “travel bubbles” | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Khaosod English

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has expressed serious concerns about the resumption of international travel under the “travel bubble” scheme, stressing that Thailand must implement a vigorous arrivals screening protocol. The scheme is a proposed limited resumption of international travel to and from countries with a reciprocal agreement.

The Thai government has indicated it has taken a risk-averse stance with future Covid-19 legislation after largely getting the local outbreak under control in late May, early June. There hasn’t been a locally transmitted case in Thailand for 40 days.

Prayut discussed the proposed scheme with the media, saying Thailand must be prepared to allow the resumption of some international travel, with the other countries involved to be carefully considered, and adding that a full agreement must be reached, to ensure compliance with public health measures at the national level.

The PM says the government is concerned about the prospects of international aviation and the country’s external revenue.

During this long weekend, the Ministry of Finance expects up to 10 billion baht in cash flow from domestic economic activities. The PM says Thais are now making more domestic trips, with many hotels reporting a slow return of customers, thanks to the further easing of Covid-19 restrictions. But tourist locations, like Pattaya and Phuket, remain quiet due to their popularity with foreign visitors.

The PM stressed that all businesses “must remain strict with their precautionary measures in order to minimise the risk of a new outbreak of the virus”.

SOURCE: Press Release from Thai National News Bureau

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World

Thailand gets quarantine “red light” from UK, “green light” from EU

Jack Burton

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Thailand gets quarantine “red light” from UK, “green light” from EU | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Evening Standard

Despite reaching 41 days without a locally transmitted case of Covid-19, Thailand is still designated as a “red light” country and Thais arriving in England will still be required to self-isolate for 14 days. Updated guidelines published on the UK Government website on Friday list 59 countries and territories for which no quarantine will apply, starting July 10. Thailand, earlier included in the list, has now been deleted.

“If you have been to or stopped in a country that is not on the travel corridors exemption list you will have to self-isolate until 14 days have passed since you left that country.”

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will each announce their own separate rules depending on how the new regulations work in England.

Unsurprisingly, the US, Brazil and India are not on the “travel corridors exemption list,” but neither is Thailand, despite earlier reports it would be, and despite its success in eliminating local transmission of the virus. The list will be subject to regular reviews.

Thailand is one of just 15 countries to which the EU has agreed to open its borders. The UK government has put Thailand on a separate list of countries deemed “safe for citizens to visit”, but anyone returning from a trip to Thailand will still have to endure the 14 day quarantine.

Asian nations on the UK exemption list include Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong, who have all brought Covid-19 transmission under control, though there have been some scattered outbreaks of new cases in Japan and Korea.

Under the new rules, a “traffic-light system” – red, orange and green – will be used for different countries depending on their coronavirus contagion levels.

‘Orange’ countries will have reciprocal arrangements in place with England, while green countries, such as New Zealand, are deemed safer than England. Orange countries include France, Italy and Spain, which are among the most popular holiday destinations for Britons.

But the US, with over a quarter of the world’s infections, and Greece, another popular travel destination, will be designated with a red light, requiring 14 days of self-isolation.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Thai Examiner

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