Thailand Tourism Economy Struggles Through COVID-19 Pandemic

Bella Breakdown

Thailand is a large tourism country accounting for one-fifth of the country’s economy but the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has drastically decreased with travel bans and lockdowns. In response to the lack of tourists, the Thailand tourism industry attempted to attract more tourists with a reopening experiment but has seen little success so far.

One of Thailand’s most popular tourist beach destinations, Patong Beach, is completely empty due to the lack of tourists as a majority of European tourists visit during the winter. Thailand has been closed to a majority of visitors since late March but is now reopening borders for a small number of foreign visitors in an attempt to revive the tourism economy.

Though Thailand is reopening borders for foreign visitors, they have a strict quarantine plan in place that deters most visitors from wanting to travel to Thailand. Foreign visitors are allowed to travel to Thailand by agreeing to a 14-day quarantine inside a hotel room to keep the infection risks low for Thailand natives while allowing visitors to help tourism businesses.

In the past, European tourists would visit the island for a couple of weeks but now Thailand is experiencing a majority of domestic travelers that come for a weekend trip. The comparison between the tourists creates a huge margin in spending that is causing the tourism economy of Thailand to collapse.

Thailand’s most popular tourist destination, Phuket, has an economy that depends 90% on tourism with a majority of foreign visitors contributing and without them, there isn’t enough income to support the businesses. A majority of tourism-based businesses such as restaurants and bars near popular beach destinations have closed with the lack of business for several months.

Hotel Clover Patong Phuket was operating at 80% to 90% capacity and the COVID-19 pandemic has cut operations to only 10% with only domestic customers compared to having more international customers who spend more time and money at tourism destinations. One of the key factors keeping tourists from wanting to visit Thailand is the obstacle of the 14-day hotel room quarantine.

A majority of visitors only want to visit Thailand for less than a week so it isn’t practical to travel somewhere to spend two weeks in a hotel room before being able to start their vacation. The Thai government is trying to balance both sides as a survey indicated that Thai natives are against the reopening to tourists.

The only solution to this problem is through vaccine distribution but this process could take some time and a majority of businesses are unsure if they’ll be able to survive without income from foreign tourists. The future of Thailand’s tourism economy is unsure but the country is fighting to build up its economy while keeping visitors and natives of Thailand safe.

Author: Sue Swinea

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