It could take another five years before tourism revives fully in Thailand – an ominous sign for one of the most tourism-dependent economies in the world, Bloomberg is reporting.
The sector, which contributed about 20% of Thailand’s economy before the pandemic, isn’t now expected to return to normal until 2026, the National Economic and Social Development Council said on Monday, citing the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
The delayed return – which some analysts had expected within two years – will impact more than seven million workers, many of whom will need to find jobs in other fields, the council said.
Thailand welcomed nearly 40 million visitors in 2019 – the last year before the pandemic – earning US$60 billion in revenue.
The country closed its borders to most foreign visitors in March 2020, and is now trying to gradually reopen some destinations to vaccinated visitors.
The economy has contracted for five straight quarters, a trend that’s likely to continue in the April-June period as the country battles its worst Covid-19 outbreak yet.
The resort island of Phuket is set to be the first to reopen in July, followed by 10 other destinations in October. But the government only expects 500,000 visitors this year, a small fraction of the 6.7 million who came in 2020 – almost all in the first three months of the year.
The government has tried several schemes before to entice tourists with special deals which they hoped would tempt travellers back to the Land of Smiles. But none of them succeeded as potential visitors balked at the mandatory quarantine requirements.
Thailand is currently requiring that arrivals into the country undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine period, which is undoubtedly a dampener for tourist trips, reports the UK Daily Express.
While in quarantine, travellers will not be allowed to leave their room except for Covid-19 tests or medical treatments.
There is no indication when this requirement my be lowered or dropped altogether.