Tourism operators in Pattaya are not holding out much hope of a mass return of foreign arrivals in the first few months after re-opening. Pattaya has been chosen as the first non-island location to re-open to vaccinated foreign tourists, but operators fear the constant indecision and changes to regulations will have a negative impact. Thanet Supornsahasrungsi from the Chon Buri Tourism Council predicts that only 30,000 – 40,000 foreign tourists will arrive between August and October, the first months of the re-opening.
“The early stages of re-opening will not attract many leisure tourists as it’s low season here and some are unsure about inconsistent regulations. We should observe the Phuket sandbox. The market in the beginning is more likely to be business travellers or Thai returnees who want to skip mandatory quarantine in the capital, opting for a more relaxed location.”
Thanet points out that countries such as Turkey and Egypt have opened up to vaccinated tourists without any restrictions. He fears Thailand could lose out to such destinations if the rules are not relaxed in the last quarter of the year. However, he adds that at this stage, any number of tourists will help. According to a Bangkok Post report, tourism revenue has plummeted from 276 billion baht in 2019 to just 68 billion last year.
Phisut Saekhu from the Eastern Chapter of the Thai Hotels Association says that out of around 1,000 hotels operating prior to the pandemic, just 20% remain open for business following the third wave of Covid-19.
Meanwhile, Chairat Rattanopas from the Eastern Spa and Wellness Association is hopeful that international tourism will really pick up in the last quarter of the year, adding that mass vaccination of the local population is essential before then.
“Conditions have to be met to start re-opening properly, including mass inoculations for 450,000 people in Bang Lamung and Sattahip districts, the pilot area for the sealed route and sealed area. Tourists must travel to designated places escorted by operators in the early stages as health and safety remain a priority.”
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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