Tourism seeing signs of recovery after Covid-19 pandemic

FILE PHOTO: Tourism is showing signs of economic recovery.

Thailand’s reopening hasn’t quite caused an avalanche of tourists pouring into the country, but the tourism industry is seeing some recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic with a steadily increasing stream of arrivals gaining momentum. The CCSA reports that nearly 60,000 international travellers have entered Thailand in the first 16 days of the reopening program.

With the increasing daily arrivals, November may hit the 100,000 tourist goal that the Executive Chairman at Kasikorn Research Centre had hoped to see. He felt that figure would be a reasonable goal that indicated moderate success in the early stages of the reopening, the first in Southeast Asia while others are now beginning to follow suit.

He believes the numbers may not be enough to suddenly save all the tourism businesses decimated by the Covid-19 pandemic, but are an encouraging sign for a slow and steady recovery over the next year or two. The National Economic and Social Development Council estimated this week that 257,000 foreign travellers will have arrived here by the end of 2021, and forecast that 5 million tourists will arrive next year. It would be a huge improvement over this year, but be a bit less than the 6.7 million visitors Thailand saw in 2019, mostly before the grip of Covid-19 took hold.

Thailand’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism revenue; it has made up as much as 20% of the gross domestic product before the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2019, domestic tourism generated 1.1 trillion baht while international tourism produced 1.9 trillion baht in revenue. Thai tourists are expected to make 66.7 million trips, down 26.3% from last year, but are expected to grow next year, to an estimated 109 to 155 million trips, generating nearly 700 billion baht.

As popular tourist destinations are beginning to come back to life, Maya Bay is set to reopen in January after being closed since 2018 to rehabilitate the nature damaged by the overwhelming popularity of the location. Before its closure, 7,000 people a day visited, but the reopening will limit visitors to 2,000 per day.

While Thailand’s Covid-19 situation has been stable around 6,000 to 7,000 infections per day and vaccination rates growing steadily – great news for the economy – the situation in other countries affect tourism recovery as well. China’s strict rules that mostly forbids its citizens from travelling abroad leaves a huge hole in Thailand’s tourism plans. They were the biggest demographic travelling to Thailand before the pandemic and now cannot come to the country.

Meanwhile, Europe is struggling with a surge in Covid-19 infections, with Austria going into lockdown on Monday and Germany is tightening restrictions in hopes of avoiding their own lockdown.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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