Thailand ready to reopen to international visitors
About 2.5 million jobs in Thailand’s tourism industry are at risk of being lost if tourist numbers do not pick up soon, cautioned Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
He added, “We have to bring in tourists by the last quarter [of 2020] as the domestic market alone cannot keep tourism workers employed.”
TAT estimates 70 million domestic trips to be made in 2020, contributing 418 billion baht (US$13 billion) in revenue, a decrease of 61% from 2019. International arrivals are expected at 6.7 million, with revenue of 332 billion baht (US$10 billion), down 65% from 2019.
According to Supasorn, hotels in Thailand depend on an average occupancy rate of 30% to stay afloat, with the current nationwide figure being 28%. Last month, the Thai government announced the opening of borders to international tourists with a limited number of arrivals and locations.
If successful and expanded, 20.5 million international tourists can be expected in 2021, said Supasorn, increasing the average hotel occupancy rate to 50%. For this to happen, risk management must be in place, even if new infections of COVID-19 cannot be completely avoided.
Supasorn explained, “If there are five cases among five million tourists, and we can contain those infections with stringent measures, that would be a good balance between public health and business survival.”
The TAT also plans to propose to the Thai cabinet, a special tourist visa scheme for long-stay visitors that cost around 2,000 baht (US$64) and can be extended up to 270 days.