Thailand’s tourism arrivals to drop by at least two thirds this year

International tourist arrivals to Thailand, before Covid-19 the most visited country in Southeast Asia for at least two decades, are expected to drop by 65 per cent to as low as 14 million as most flights have been suspended and closed borders, as well as quarantine and other formal restrictions, are holding people back from travel in times of the virus pandemic.

The estimate means the lowest level of arrivals in 14 years, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) noted on May 11, and is sharply down from 33.8 million visitors projected in March. Last year’s foreign arrivals to Thailand were an all-time record of 39.8 million.

But it isn’t even the worst scenario painted: The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce estimated that Thailand could even lose about 30 million tourists if the coronavirus crisis does not improve in the third quarter of the year.

In any case, the subsequent drop in tourism revenue will be a heavy blow for the country’s economy which officially depends by at least 11 per cent on visitor spending which amounted to almost $60 billion last year. Including the informal sector, the share of tourism income of GPD is estimated at an unhealthy 20 per cent or even more.

The university chamber also painted a grim picture for the employment situation in the sector. It estimated that, as it stands, around six million tourism workers would end up unemployed, while the number of those who lose their jobs could even rise to ten million if the pandemic does not subside by the end of June.

TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn says he was “hoping” that foreign visitors will return to Thailand in October, the country’s high tourist season, but this would clearly depend on the outbreak situation and travel restrictions at that time.

More barriers for tourists instead of incentives?

Meanwhile, Thailand’s tourism and sports ministry in the midst of the biggest tourism crisis in the country’s history for some reason revived a proposal made in better days to levy a tax of 300 baht ($9.34) per person for foreign arrivals by air, land or sea transport.

Such a levy would be added to a tourism fund managed by the ministry that aims to “rebuild and develop tourism supply chains” in the country, as well as offer safety and security protection for tourists, including a pandemic insurance.

Tourism and sports minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said that the scheme was part of the 20-year national strategic and initiated last year, but was delayed because of the pandemic. Now was the right time to initiate collection, he said.

However, tour operators and most in the private tourism industry are not convinced that a new arrival tax – as low as it may seem – was a good signal to revive tourism at times when there are a lot of other barriers. Even more so, as it comes on top of a departure tax of 700 baht per person for international flights that the ministry already charges.

International tourist arrivals to Thailand, before Covid-19 the most visited country in Southeast Asia for at least two decades, are expected to drop by 65 per cent to as low as 14 million as most flights have been suspended and closed borders, as well as quarantine and other formal restrictions, are holding people back from travel in times of the virus pandemic. The estimate means the lowest level of arrivals in 14 years, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) noted on May 11, and is sharply down from 33.8 million visitors projected in March. Last year’s foreign arrivals to Thailand...

International tourist arrivals to Thailand, before Covid-19 the most visited country in Southeast Asia for at least two decades, are expected to drop by 65 per cent to as low as 14 million as most flights have been suspended and closed borders, as well as quarantine and other formal restrictions, are holding people back from travel in times of the virus pandemic.

The estimate means the lowest level of arrivals in 14 years, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) noted on May 11, and is sharply down from 33.8 million visitors projected in March. Last year’s foreign arrivals to Thailand were an all-time record of 39.8 million.

But it isn’t even the worst scenario painted: The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce estimated that Thailand could even lose about 30 million tourists if the coronavirus crisis does not improve in the third quarter of the year.

In any case, the subsequent drop in tourism revenue will be a heavy blow for the country’s economy which officially depends by at least 11 per cent on visitor spending which amounted to almost $60 billion last year. Including the informal sector, the share of tourism income of GPD is estimated at an unhealthy 20 per cent or even more.

The university chamber also painted a grim picture for the employment situation in the sector. It estimated that, as it stands, around six million tourism workers would end up unemployed, while the number of those who lose their jobs could even rise to ten million if the pandemic does not subside by the end of June.

TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn says he was “hoping” that foreign visitors will return to Thailand in October, the country’s high tourist season, but this would clearly depend on the outbreak situation and travel restrictions at that time.

More barriers for tourists instead of incentives?

Meanwhile, Thailand’s tourism and sports ministry in the midst of the biggest tourism crisis in the country’s history for some reason revived a proposal made in better days to levy a tax of 300 baht ($9.34) per person for foreign arrivals by air, land or sea transport.

Such a levy would be added to a tourism fund managed by the ministry that aims to “rebuild and develop tourism supply chains” in the country, as well as offer safety and security protection for tourists, including a pandemic insurance.

Tourism and sports minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said that the scheme was part of the 20-year national strategic and initiated last year, but was delayed because of the pandemic. Now was the right time to initiate collection, he said.

However, tour operators and most in the private tourism industry are not convinced that a new arrival tax – as low as it may seem – was a good signal to revive tourism at times when there are a lot of other barriers. Even more so, as it comes on top of a departure tax of 700 baht per person for international flights that the ministry already charges.

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