The Effect of COVID-19 on International Tourism in Thailand

International Arrivals in Thailand are down by 75% so far in 2020 as the continued COVID-19 pandemic and the associated lockdown continues to impact tourism which accounts for around 20% of the country’s GDP.

Read about the impact on Global and Southeast Asia tourism and hopes for recovery here

That is according to statistical data issued by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) which included Thailand in their focus countries.

The World Tourism Organization is a United Nations Specialized Agency.

International Tourist Arrivals

2020 was predicted by many to be a record breaking year for Thailand and international tourism.

However demand was quickly impacted by COVID-19. Thailand was the first country outside of China to record a case of the virus and international travel into Thailand during Chinese New Year was impacted by a reduction in Chinese tourists during February.

Many people changed or cancelled travel plans even before the Thailand lockdown in March. By April international tourism arrivals were completely banned and have only been eased during October to very low numbers of tourists.

Thailand International Arrivals. UNWTO data.

Occupancy Rates

Hotel occupancy rates have also seen a massive decline.

At the height of the lockdown in Thailand during April, occupancy was down to 8% of capacity, much of this is likely to be long-stay tourists already in country or displaced locals.

Occupancy rates started to increase gradually as local restrictions started to be lifted and domestic tourism was encouraged. They are still only at 20% capacity and well below where they would be expected to be in a normal year.

Thailand Occupancy Rates. UNWTO data.

Hotel Bookings

Of increasing concern must be the lack of future bookings and even hotel searches.

People are not yet confident that international tourism into Thailand will be allowed on a large-scale anytime soon. Many will have economic issues preventing normal tourism. Others will have other local factors, such as quarantine arrangements, to take into account.

The number of hotel bookings has fallen dramatically as confidence in the ability to travel has fallen.

Thailand Hotel Bookings. UNWTO data.

It also seems that people are not even tentatively looking at options within Thailand at the moment as the number of people making hotel searches has fallen by almost 70%

Thailand Hotel Searches. UNWTO data.

The Future

It looks like the road to recovery for tourism is Thailand is likely to be along one.

The country is only making its first tentative steps into allowing foreign tourists and despite pressure from some within the tourist industry, seem to be reluctant to remove more restrictions until they are confident it will not result in further COVID outbreaks.

Foreign tourists will also need to be confident in the quality of visits that are not reliant on initial isolation, that visits will take place as planned and that they will not be subject to quarantine on their return home. Financial issues will also be a factor.

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Published by flyingdogtravel

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