Thailand’s hotel operators call for PCR testing on arrival to be dropped
The Thai Hotels Association says the government must drop the PCR testing requirement for foreign visitors if there’s going to be any hope of salvaging the country’s tourism industry. THA president Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi says demand for the revamped Test & Go scheme is lower now than when it was first launched in November, due to high season coming to an end soon. However, she says the new requirement for a second PCR test on day 5 is also a factor.
“We have to create more momentum for the industry to take off from its historic low. If the testing requirement for the Test & Go scheme cannot be relaxed, tourism will surely face further collapse as operators already drew their last breath.”
The THA boss was addressing attendees at a Bangkok Post conference when she called for PCR testing on arrival to be dropped. Marisa pointed out that Thailand needs to remain competitive as other countries such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Australia all open up with fewer entry restrictions. In Europe, several countries have dropped the need for PCR testing prior to entry and the Maldives, which has also ditched the PCR testing requirement, enjoyed tourism numbers in 2021 that surpassed those of 2019.
The Bangkok Post reports that Marisa went on to say the additional requirements mean many hotels have had to hire extra staff. They need an occupancy rate of 45% just to break even, compared to occupancy of 30% – 40% in pre-pandemic times. However, if the government would relax some of the entry requirements for overseas visitors, as well as agreeing a number of travel bubbles, she says hotels could reach occupancy rates of 50%.
Also speaking at the conference was Amonthep Chawla, chief economist from CIMB Thai Bank. He believes Thailand’s tourism sector will lag behind the overall economy when it comes to recovery post-Covid.
“Although we assess the Thai economy will reach the same level as before the pandemic in the first quarter of next year, the country’s tourism recovery will take more time. Hotels targeting high-end customers will recover first, while those below 4 stars and tour agencies would take longer to rebound.”
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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