Thailand Extends Emergency Decree As Prospects For 2021 Fade

On 26th November the Royal Thai Government approved an extension of the nationwide Emergency Decree until 15 January, 2021.

The extension, the eighth since measures were first implemented in March, are intended to prevent a resurgence in Covid infections during the peak New Year period.

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thailand has become one of the first countries in the world to conduct a Joint Intra-Action Review in conjunction with the World Health Organisation (WHO) with the joint goals of identifying what went well during the first 6 months of the pandemic and to recommend how the Thailand Ministry of Public Health could improve its response to future outbreaks.

The independent review has largely praised Thailand for its response to the pandemic with the reports Executive Summary looking primarily at “the key elements of Thailand’s successful response”

“Thailand’s long-term investments in infrastructure, technology and human resource capacity paid important dividends, providing the robust and well-resourced medical and public health system that proved essential.

Experience with infectious disease outbreaks…. helped Thailand build expertise and understanding that enhanced preparedness, both at the MOPH (Ministry of Public Health) and among the general public, leading to a successful response.

Thailand established consistent, accurate and transparent communication that helped build trust and increased public confidence and compliance. To achieve this, citizens, residents and visitors were engaged to understand, support and comply with public health directives with minimal use of punitive or coercive measures.”

“The considerable resources and expertise of the private business was leveraged through active engagement, including medical, travel and hospitality, media, technology and manufacturing sectors.

Finally, a “whole of government” and “whole of society” approach was adopted. Thailand’s policies and interventions were improved by consultation with, or in consideration of, groups and sectors of society, both public and private. Advice and consultation were actively sought to mitigate the negative impacts of the outbreak and protect national health security.”

Joint Intra-Action Review of the Public Health Response to COVID-19 in Thailand – executive Summary

Meanwhile a report in the Bangkok Post has warned that the travel industry in Thailand may have to wait until 2022 before tourist revenue recovers to 80% of “normal” levels as countries wait for a widespread global vaccination programme to take effect.

They have reported that the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor Yuthasak Supasorn has said that prospects for 2021 “remain opaque”.

TAT have generally been optimistic for an early recovery for tourism so this shift in language may be a significant indicator for the tourism sector, not just in Thailand, but for the region as a whole.

The World Tourism Organization (WTO) have already said that they do not expect tourism to recover until late 2021 or early 2022 and TAT now seem to be following suit as they now do not expect to see even moderate numbers of international visitors until the second or third quarters of 2021.

“We set 2021 as a year of adjustment before seeing a leap in 2022. We forecast Thailand will achieve 2.5 trillion baht in tourism revenue in 2022, or 80-90% of 2019, which recorded 3 trillion baht.”

“There will be more pent-up demand by 2022, but in the early stages we have to accept the volume will not be as high as before the pandemic.” 

Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn
Koh Samui, Thailand

TAT are likely to extend the “We travel together” campaign which encourages and provides discounts for domestic tourism.

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