Thai tourism crippled by corona

The global spread of the corona virus has hit Thailand tourism hard. Last year, the number of tourists who visited Thailand stood at 39 million, earning the country a revenue of more than $60 billion. According to a BBC report, out of the total number of tourists more than 10 million were Chinese.

So when the virus hit China hard, Thailand felt the tremors. As more flights from China got cancelled, the Thai airports fell empty.

Tourism contributes one-fifth of the country’s total economy, and with manufacturing and agriculture struggling, a hit on tourism was the last thing that Thailand would have wanted.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has announced that tourist arrivals fell by 44.3% in February. It is now expecting total tourist arrivals to fall to 30 million this year. The Thai Hotels Association has said that tourists have almost disappeared from hotels, with many at only 10% occupancy.

Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn has said he expects tourist arrivals to plunge by 50% in the first half of 2020. His numbers were based on the slow business at the country’s main airports, hotel bookings and ‘landing slots’ cancelled by international airlines into Thailand.

The Thai government has said that it is ready to throw some financial lifelines, including soft loans, tax incentives and training, in return for tourism income.

“We expect the situation to pick up in April and will be discussing with Airports of Thailand ways to manage flight schedules for Chinese tourists to reduce airport congestion. There’s also been the news about the speedboat collision in Phuket in which several tourists were killed, so we want to put the priority on tourist safety,” the minister said.

What Thai tourism could do is to boost the number of domestic trips to maintain jobs for workers in the industry until the coronavirus crisis passes. The Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) is hoping that local tourists to take 200 million domestic trips this year.