Thailand seeks ways to bring its dead tourism industry back to life

Thailand is desperately trying to revive its collapsed tourism industry by introducing new incentives for visitors, betting on higher vaccination rates against Covid-19 that allow quarantine-free travels.

After having effectively been closed for holiday makers for more than one and a half years, Thailand started to gradually open the resort islands of Phuket and Koh Samui from July in so-called “sandbox” schemes, with mixed results.

The government, after consultation with tourism authorities, now plans to reopen more of its popular tourist destinations, including the capital Bangkok, to fully-vaccinated foreign visitors starting in October.

Additionally, Chiang Mai, Chonburi including the former entertainment hub of Pattaya, Phetchaburi with its national parks and Prachuap Khiri Khan with the popular getaway of Hua Hin are set to reopen to vaccinated foreign visitors from October 1, while another 21 destinations might reopen from mid-October, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) announced on September 10.

Phuket sandbox scheme behind expectations

The Phuket sandbox programme had attracted more than 26,000 tourists during the past two months to the island, generating 1.63 billion baht ($49.9 million) in revenue, according to TAT, but lagged behind expectations.

Local tourism may also get a push as the government is considering measures to encourage domestic traveling starting from mid-October if the number of new Covid-19 cases remains at a manageable level.

“We are closely monitoring the development trend on the number of new daily infections following the lockdown easing that took effect on September 1. If the new case tally remains at a manageable level, we will continue to pursue our plans,” Thailand’s minister of tourism and sports Phiphat Ratchakitprakan said.

Domestic tourism would be subsidised with incentives such as a 40-per cent discount on accommodation, a 600-baht voucher for food and beverage for every night booked, another 40 per cent discount on plane tickets and discounted tour packages, according to Phiphat. It is expected to cover a total of three million Thai travelers.

The tourism incentives are part of the country’s efforts to strike a balance between pandemic containment and economic growth as long as the Covid-19 infections remain at a level that does not overwhelm the public health system.

The revival of tourism sector has been high on the Thai government’s agenda as the sector accounted for about one fifth of the country’s gross domestic product in years before the pandemic.

Revival of mass tourism or diversification?

However, critics have noted that rather than stepping up efforts to revive mass tourism in Thailand, authorities should probably better think about a change in the concept of such a high reliance on particularly international tourism and diversify the economy towards more future-oriented industries, adding that now the time window for such a shift had opened with the pandemic.

But this would also need a substantial change in economic planning and social engineering by the government, including a radical improvement in Thailand’s education system and the country’s overall administration, and many observers currently do not see the capabilities in a military government that has a different agenda.



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Thailand is desperately trying to revive its collapsed tourism industry by introducing new incentives for visitors, betting on higher vaccination rates against Covid-19 that allow quarantine-free travels. After having effectively been closed for holiday makers for more than one and a half years, Thailand started to gradually open the resort islands of Phuket and Koh Samui from July in so-called “sandbox” schemes, with mixed results. The government, after consultation with tourism authorities, now plans to reopen more of its popular tourist destinations, including the capital Bangkok, to fully-vaccinated foreign visitors starting in October. Additionally, Chiang Mai, Chonburi including the former...

Thailand is desperately trying to revive its collapsed tourism industry by introducing new incentives for visitors, betting on higher vaccination rates against Covid-19 that allow quarantine-free travels.

After having effectively been closed for holiday makers for more than one and a half years, Thailand started to gradually open the resort islands of Phuket and Koh Samui from July in so-called “sandbox” schemes, with mixed results.

The government, after consultation with tourism authorities, now plans to reopen more of its popular tourist destinations, including the capital Bangkok, to fully-vaccinated foreign visitors starting in October.

Additionally, Chiang Mai, Chonburi including the former entertainment hub of Pattaya, Phetchaburi with its national parks and Prachuap Khiri Khan with the popular getaway of Hua Hin are set to reopen to vaccinated foreign visitors from October 1, while another 21 destinations might reopen from mid-October, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) announced on September 10.

Phuket sandbox scheme behind expectations

The Phuket sandbox programme had attracted more than 26,000 tourists during the past two months to the island, generating 1.63 billion baht ($49.9 million) in revenue, according to TAT, but lagged behind expectations.

Local tourism may also get a push as the government is considering measures to encourage domestic traveling starting from mid-October if the number of new Covid-19 cases remains at a manageable level.

“We are closely monitoring the development trend on the number of new daily infections following the lockdown easing that took effect on September 1. If the new case tally remains at a manageable level, we will continue to pursue our plans,” Thailand’s minister of tourism and sports Phiphat Ratchakitprakan said.

Domestic tourism would be subsidised with incentives such as a 40-per cent discount on accommodation, a 600-baht voucher for food and beverage for every night booked, another 40 per cent discount on plane tickets and discounted tour packages, according to Phiphat. It is expected to cover a total of three million Thai travelers.

The tourism incentives are part of the country’s efforts to strike a balance between pandemic containment and economic growth as long as the Covid-19 infections remain at a level that does not overwhelm the public health system.

The revival of tourism sector has been high on the Thai government’s agenda as the sector accounted for about one fifth of the country’s gross domestic product in years before the pandemic.

Revival of mass tourism or diversification?

However, critics have noted that rather than stepping up efforts to revive mass tourism in Thailand, authorities should probably better think about a change in the concept of such a high reliance on particularly international tourism and diversify the economy towards more future-oriented industries, adding that now the time window for such a shift had opened with the pandemic.

But this would also need a substantial change in economic planning and social engineering by the government, including a radical improvement in Thailand’s education system and the country’s overall administration, and many observers currently do not see the capabilities in a military government that has a different agenda.



Support ASEAN news

Investvine has been a consistent voice in ASEAN news for more than a decade. From breaking news to exclusive interviews with key ASEAN leaders, we have brought you factual and engaging reports – the stories that matter, free of charge.

Like many news organisations, we are striving to survive in an age of reduced advertising and biased journalism. Our mission is to rise above today’s challenges and chart tomorrow’s world with clear, dependable reporting.

Support us now with a donation of your choosing. Your contribution will help us shine a light on important ASEAN stories, reach more people and lift the manifold voices of this dynamic, influential region.

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Personal Info

Donation Total: $10.00

 

 

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