The Thai tourism industry has been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic with many businesses struggling with the lack of international tourists.
In 2019 a record 39 million international tourists visited Thailand and 2020 was predicted to hit the 40 million mark. Tourism accounted for almost 20% of GDP and 10% of jobs prior to the pandemic and government ministers have now stated that the tourism industry will not be able to make such a large contribution in the future.
“The Covid-19 outbreak that hit Thailand since April has exposed the fragility of the economy and shed light on the fact that we rely too much on export and tourism.”
“It is unacceptable to let Thailand slide back to the period before Covid-19. Since the global economy is changing we must be more proactive in attracting foreign investors, and the agencies responsible for this are the Board of Investment Office and Eastern Economic Corridor Office.”
“The next step will be to put Thailand on the list of top 10 countries with ease of doing business, which is a goal proposed by five countries who are our major trade partners.”Supattanapong Punmeechaow. Thailand Deputy Prime Minister
Investment in the tourism industry and the infrastructure to support this has continued at a rapid rate over the past few years. The prospect of less tourists over a sustained period of time would send shockwaves through the industry and the many people who have businesses either linked to or dependent on the tourism industry.
There will be hope that his words do not hint at a less accessible or tourist friendly Thailand but is purely a call to increase business elsewhere and so reducing dependence on tourism.
The tourism industry had hoped that the recent announcement of the return of Visa on Arrival for citizens of 56 countries would boost tourist numbers after the STV and TV had failed to ignite significant numbers. However the continued requirement for quarantine on arrival, seen by many as a major obstacle to travel, together with a new Covid outbreak may mean that the start of the recovery is further away than hoped.
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