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Tourism sector facing massive closures

Jack Burton



PHOTO: Coconuts

Thailand’s tourism sector, long seen as a lifeline for the nation’s battered economy, is in a meltdown; more than 30% of tourism-related businesses have left the market with many more expected to follow, according to the Tourism Council of Thailand. The president of the TCT says the tourism industry predicts further deterioration after 6 months of the Covid-19 crisis, as many businesses are closing operations or selling off assets, deciding not to wait for an uncertain recovery.

He says the types of businesses most affected by the crisis are tour operators, bus services with small fleets, restaurants, souvenir shops and hotels that focused on foreign tour groups, especially the Chinese market. He says the TCT is still collecting the exact number of members fleeing the sector, which he believes amounts to more than 30% in the first half of the year, as Thailand continues to seal its borders to international tourists.

The Tourism Department said 1,111 tour operators in the January-June period surrendered their licenses and asked for the return of their guarantees.

The figure peaked in June as 262 companies permanently quit the market; withdrawals in the second quarter made up 65.4% of all withdrawals in the first half as tourism staggered from lockdown measures.

If travel bubbles aren’t implemented this year, more than 30% of outbound operators will have to permanently shut down, according to the president of the Thai Travel Agents Association.

Currently, most operators have put off making any decisions as they wait for further details on travel bubble agreements with other countries. After the recent cases of an Egyptian airman in Rayong and the daughter of a Sudanese diplomat in Bangkok, these agreements may take even longer, as doctors and academics urge caution.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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  1. Avatar

    rinky stingpiece

    Wednesday, July 22, 2020 at 1:39 pm

    When you have academics clamouring for postponement of travel bubbles for 6 months – extending across the peak tourism season – and a government inclined towards extending control, it’s beginning to look like tourism is over until autumn 2021, and that may mean the literal decimation of the industry, with knock on effects for the property market and other sector that benefit from tourism. Exports are also languishing.
    With such high debt levels in the country, the risk for a currency devaluation and a return to the economic situation of 20 years ago, and not just in Thailand – Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines may face a similar crisis.

  2. Avatar

    Richard Renwick

    Wednesday, July 22, 2020 at 2:35 pm

    “Uncertain recovery” The only thing certain is there won’t be a recovery in the next 5 years. Every decision the government decides on makes things worse.

  3. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Wednesday, July 22, 2020 at 5:40 pm

    If you want Thais to understand that, you had better put it in a lot simpler language.
    Such as you stupid morons with your unneeded bans and regulations are making paupers of the population.

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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.

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