It’s easy to look scornfully at the government and tourism industry’s rose-tinted predictions of the Phuket Sandbox reopening and further return of international tourism to Thailand by the end of the year. But a look at the current statistics for the battered tourism industry helps explain the need for hope. This quarter, 550,000 jobs were lost in the tourism industry.
The loss of another half a million tourism jobs, reported by a private industry group yesterday, is a further kick in the gut to the down and out sector which lost 400,000 jobs in the first 3 months of the year, meaning nearly a million people lost their tourism work in 2021 so far.
More than 2 million jobs have been lost in the tourism sector since the outbreak of Covid-19, with border closures, lockdowns, and severe restrictions implemented and reimplemented over the past year and a half in an attempt to control and contain the viral pandemic in Thailand.
The third wave of Covid-19 has been exponentially more severe than the relatively mild first two outbreaks where Thailand’s harsh restrictions kept infections to a minimum praised worldwide. But since April, the devastating effects of the Coronavirus has shuttered 36% of tourism businesses in Thailand, costing hundreds of thousands of jobs.
According to the Tourism Council of Thailand, of that 36% of businesses, 4% were permanently closed and the jobs are not coming back. The president of the council said if things don’t turn around quickly more businesses will close temporarily and permanently. He cites that most businesses might have the cash flow to survive 6 months, but the majority cannot survive as Covid-19 pushes 2 years of closures.
Hotel occupancy rates dropped from a dismal 20% to an even more bleak 10% this quarter and a survey showed that tourist confidence has hit record lows, despite government efforts to shine a positive light on the Phuket reopening and the following Samui opening next. The best-case predictions of 3 million tourists this year is a fraction of normal, and the government’s own optimistic worst-case scenario of 1 million international visitors is just 2.5% of the 40 million visitors in previous years before the pandemic.
The cabinet agreed yesterday to delay debt repayments until the end of 2021 for those who owe state banks in an attempt to ease the stress on small businesses and households. They also approved 7.5 billion baht for owners and staff struggling with Covid-19 restrictions, though neither resolution was directed specifically at the jobs lost in the tourism industry.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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