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Grim predictions for Thailand’s tourism recovery

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Thailand is starting to relax its successful lockdown measures. Slowly and cautiously, selected businesses are being allowed to open. 

The harsh new reality of Thailand’s lucrative tourism industry however is starting to sink in. News organisations have begun to report a study from Kasikorn Bank Research Centre. The bank is reported to give some blunt predictions. (read on to see key points Thailand faces)

Thailand’s traditionally fruitful tourism & hospitality industry is facing losses of 1.69 trillion baht (well over 53 billion US dollars) in 2020. Along with the bitter realism of massive losses, 2021 might not offer much recovery. 

Strict measures implemented by the Thai government controlling entry & exit of foreigners into the kingdom has been a successful tool to curb the spread of Covid-19. 

However the reports ‘new normal’ procedure predictions are forecasting difficult times ahead. The country’s crucial tourism industry contributes around 18% of Thailand’s GDP.

With Thailand’s number of new daily Covid-19 cases hovering in single-digits, Thailand will rightly depict itself as a zero to low-risk destination.

‘New normal’ restrictions have not yet been officially announced. However it’s looking unlikely the doors to the kingdom will be fully opened any time soon.

This ‘difficult period’ prognocis for businesses in the tourism sector is not what the industry wants to hear as thousands are eagerly waiting to go back to work.

Key points the tourism industry faces:

  • Health rules & regulations will dictate the travel experience
  • Touch-points will have to be removed where possible
  • Safe social distancing will have to be practised in popular tourist destinations including transfers to & from accommodation and airports

Moving forward

Airline companies have been considering the option to reduce passenger capacity. Imposing socially-distant seating, however for airlines to operate profitably it looks like air fares might face a substantial increase.

There is also the gargantuan task ahead for tour operators to guarantee social distancing. Expected to be the ‘new normal’ requirement on all transfers, this might increase the cost for transfers and tours, more buses will be required to transfer groups.

If a ‘risk-free’ model is to be implemented effectively, It’s suggested that hotels will be invited to join certification schemes.

Tourist reliant destinations like Phuket, Koh Samui and Pattaya are poised to be hit hard, with not much hope of a quick recovery. 

The real estate market however is alive, with greatly reduced opportunities for cash rich speculators. (read here)

When gates to the ‘land of smiles’ do open, many business owners are predicting that it will be opened to other Asian nations first. Countries like China are seen to successfully curb the spread above other nations, sharing similar achievements in reducing new cases like Thailand. 

The question is how long can Thailand’s large tourism reliant workforce continue without the constant flow incoming travellers it has experienced for generations.