Thai tourism sector “seriously wounded” by pandemic

PHOTO: A deserted beach on Koh Samui - The Guardian

It goes without saying that Thailand’s tourist industry has been decimated by the impact of lockdown measures and border closures, not only in Thailand but around the world.

But now a deputy governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand says that the kingdom’s tourism sector is “seriously wounded” from the Covid-19 pandemic. Thapanee Kiatphaibool said Thailand won’t get anywhere near its target of 41.8 million tourists this year (probably the understatement of the year). In fact, she said it will would be lucky to get 7 million visitors, and more than 6 million of those have already come and gone in the first 3 months, before the pandemic and its economic impact took hold during the nationwide lockdown.

She expressed some optimism that June and July would see a rise in domestic tourism. Indeed, the domestic market could be “the saviour for tourism operators” she told the “Restart Thailand” seminar.

There were already plenty of buzzwords flying around at the seminar when Thapanee threw out her own “Five Rs”. These are the need to “Rebuild, Rebalance, Refresh, Reboot and Rebound” in the tourism sector. Under “rebound” she mentioned plans for places like Phuket to introduce the “Safe and Sealed” model in which tourists are restricted to certain areas during their mandatory quarantine period.

She said that post-Covid tourism will be all about “trust” and assuring health, and that Safety and Health Administration certification of businesses is an important part of that. The former minister of Tourism and Sports Weerasak Kowsurat also made an appearance, stressing the need to spur the sector using domestic tourism.

He said that a significant group of the population that has suffered greatly are young people who left their villages to work in cities lost their jobs due to the crisis. He told the seminar the focus on this group is important to Thailand’s economic recovery.

SOURCES: thaivisa | The Bangkok Insight

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