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Thailand poised to break through 40 million arrivals in 2019

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Thailand poised to break through 40 million arrivals in 2019 | The Thaiger
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Thailand welcomed a record 38.27 million tourists in 2018.

That’s up 7.5 percent from 2017 arrival figures. The Thai tourism ministry announced the figures this morning. In December, tourist arrivals amounted to 3.85 million.

The ministry is also expecting the number of tourists visiting Thailand in 2019 to increase by another 7.5 percent.

For 2019, the ministry expects to break through the 40 million arrivals mark with 41.1 million tourists set to spend 2.21 trillion baht.

Chinese visitors – Thailand’s most fruitful source of tourists for the past four years- is projected to rise another 11 percent to 11.69 million, according to the Tourism Ministry.

Foreign tourist spending accounts for 12 percent of Thailand’s GDP (gross domestic product), according to the Ministry statement.

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34.7% of Thai tourist businesses closed down

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34.7% of Thai tourist businesses closed down | The Thaiger

“When the tourists start coming back it will be a very different holiday experience for them. Will it ever get back to the numbers before Covid? Never.”

A Tourism Authority of Thailand survey, conducted between January 10 – 12, indicates that more than a third of the country’s tourism-related businesses has already shut up shop and gone out of business. But industry players estimate the number is much higher. In regions almost solely relying on tourism for an income – Phuket, Pattaya, Koh Samui, Gulf and Andaman islands and touristy areas around Bangkok – up to 90% of the front-line tourism businesses have closed.

1,884 tourism businesses in Thailand were surveyed by the TAT about their current situations and how they were coping with the long-term closure of the Thai borders and the local restrictions on travel. Businesses covered areas like accommodation, travel agents, tour companies, restaurants, car and bike rentals and public transport businesses.

34.7% said they had already shut down or gone out of business.

That the TAT admit that more than a third of their front-line organisations have gone to the wall already is a big turn-around from the perennially optimistic tone and often cringe-worthy predictions. The TAT and the Thai Minister of Tourism and ports are now staring down the barrel of an industry, not only diminished, but changed forever after decades of stunning growth.

But speaking to several major tourism players during the week The Thaiger heard a much bleaker prediction from both foreign and Thai-owned tourism related businesses. One long-term hotel manager in the south, who is responsible for 11 hotels in Phuket, Krabi and Khao Lak, says they’ve had to lay off almost all of their staff after “hanging in” over the past 9 months.

“We can no longer keep even a small number of rooms open without any hope of the borders opening up in the next few months. We’re finished. And even when they do start allowing tourists back into the country it would take us up to 6 months to get staff and maintenance ready again.”

“I would say that 90% of tourism-related businesses are gone. And gone forever. A lot were small family businesses who had taken the punt and invested their savings into the booming tourism business down here. They’ll never return.”

“When the tourists start coming back it will be a very different holiday experience for them. Will it ever get back to the numbers before Covid? Never. People will be looking for something different as the world travel industry reinvents itself.”

Last week Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Minister claimed that 10 million tourists would start arriving in Thailand from the middle of this year for the rest of 2021. Just 3 months ago he also predicted that domestic tourists would undertake some 10 million trips a month during the forthcoming high season (December to February).

In 2019 nearly 40 million overseas tourists arrived in Thailand. In the second half of 2019 there were just over 20 million tourists, twice the amount the Minister predicts will arrive from July to December this year.

This week’s prediction was that tourists, foreign and local, would be spending 1.2 Trillion baht on the battered tourist industry during 2021. The Minister failed to provide details about where these tourists would come from or where they would visit during their stays – stays that still have to begin with a 14 day mandatory quarantine.

The break out of a cluster of infections in the Samut Sakhon province, just south west of Bangkok, and now spread to the majority of other Thai provinces, on December 20, forced the government to restrict inter provincial travel. The not-quite-a-lockdown that followed severely dampened the travel plans of locals and foreigners inside Thailand over the traditional December/January holiday season. This week the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority loosened some of the earlier restrictions and allowed some formerly closed businesses to re-open.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thai people hope Covid-19 vaccine will help end pandemic – survey

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Thai people hope Covid-19 vaccine will help end pandemic – survey | The Thaiger
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A Bangkok University poll indicates that around half of the Thai population are holding out hope that the Covid-19 vaccine will help end the pandemic. But the same respondents fear the vaccines’ side effects.

The poll was conducted on January 18-20 on 1,186 people nationwide, aged 18 and over. A bare majority, 50.1% say their jobs and incomes would be affected if the pandemic continues without the masses being inoculated. About 27% said the most worrisome effect of the continued pandemic would be getting infected by the virus. 15% said they would be most worried about travelling. The rest of respondents said the availability of necessities and food, expenses for protective gear, children’s education topped their lists of worries.

Asked if vaccines would help curb or end the pandemic in the country, 51.3% said they are moderately hopeful, with a smaller percentage, 32.8%, very hopeful, and almost 16% had little or no hope. When asked about their concerns surrounding vaccines, almost 40% chose side effects.

Almost 13% said they were concerned about new vaccines being needed to fight new Covid-19 variants, with the same amount worried they wouldn’t receive free vaccines. About 8% worried about receiving smuggled vaccines without the Food and Drugs Administration’s approval.

The biggest lessons Thais say they learned from the Covid-19 outbreak during the past year focused on the illegal entry of migrants – 40.2%. About 20% say they learned that hiding information could put other people at risk, while about 18% said recklessness on the part of some people could put the majority at risk.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thai researcher details her Covid-19 vaccination experience

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Thai researcher details her Covid-19 vaccination experience | The Thaiger
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“General post-vaccination symptoms include a mild fever, headache, muscle pain and shivering.”

A Thai post-doctorate researcher at the University of Chicago is detailing her Covid-19 vaccination experience and offering insight into its effects. Siriruk Changrob has received 2 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine but says just the vaccine won’t immunise people from getting Covid.

Siriruk says a person who is inoculated with the vaccine can still become infected and should continue to practice social distancing and wearing a mask until a herd immunity is developed by 60% of the population, or the virus dissipates. She says she received the first vaccine about 20 days ago and upon arriving for the 2nd dose, a nurse asked her about any side effects and whether she had tested positive for the virus in the past 90 days.

She says she didn’t feel anything until about 8 hours after the 2nd injection, when she started to feel feverish and some pain at the injection site. She noted that all her colleagues warned her that the 2nd injection would give her more painful symptoms.

The Pfizer vaccine requires 2 doses that must be administered at least 21 days apart. But Sriiruk warns that if you can’t get the 2nd injection within the recommended time frame, to hold off from the injection until the time frame can be followed. She also said that anyone who requires daily medication to treat other ailments should consult their doctor before being vaccinated, to ensure that the efficacy of the vaccine will not be affected by that medication.

She says the general post-vaccination symptoms include a “mild fever, headache, muscle pain and shivering”, positive signs that the body is developing an immunity. She warns that taking medication to prevent such symptoms as a fever, is not recommended as the vaccine only protects a person from developing symptoms, rather from being infected by the virus.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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