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Tourism minister warns of domestic slowdown

Tourism minister warns of domestic slowdown

BANGKOK: Thailand’s tourism minister has warned that local demand is expected to drastically slow amid a slumping economy if there is no proper plan to reopen to tourists next year.

By Bangkok Post

Thursday 12 November 2020, 10:16AM

Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn. Photo: MoTS

Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn. Photo: MoTS

Local demand remains below 40% of last year’s figure despite an uptick in activity since the outbreak of the pandemic, said Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, reports the Bangkok Post.

However, that trend is likely to slow going into next year if there are no plans to revive the tourism industry after the government’s tourism stimulus campaign ends in January.

“We have a precarious year for domestic tourism waiting for us in 2021, with the number of trips and receipts possibly going down to 15% of 2019,” he said.

Recovering from the current crisis will be more difficult than it was to recover from the 1997 Asian financial crisis because of the pandemic’s broad impact on the economy, he said.

While for any recovery to happen, winning back foreign tourists will be vital since domestic tourism is small by comparison.

Mr Phiphat said that the government’s plan to lure overseas visitors with a Special Tourist Visa (STV) will not be enough on its own to save the industry, but it’s a start.

“We shouldn’t expect big things from the STV, but it can prepare local communities for a return of international arrivals and pave the way for further relaxation of restrictions in the next phase,” said Mr Phiphat.

One measure the government is looking to relax is the quarantine period for foreign arrivals, from 14 days currently to 10 days, though that plan has been halted temporarily following concerns of local transmissions.

The ministry is due to hold talks with the Chinese embassy this month to find a way of allowing Thai and Chinese tourists to freely visit each country.

Property in Phuket

Mr Phiphat is hopeful that Chinese tourists will be able to visit the country in February next year under a travel bubble scheme that will avoid the need for mandatory quarantine.

“Now, we need every segment of the tourism industry to help bring about a recovery. But this will depend on how each country lets their citizens easily fly back and forth,” Mr Phiphat said.

Meanwhile the South Korean embassy has agreed to let golfers travel to Thailand this winter to train on the condition they undergo quarantine procedures.

The ministry also plans to hold talks with foreign embassies in Thailand, including the Japanese, Vietnamese, Australian and New Zealand, to find a way out of the tourism impasse.

Mr Phiphat said during his visits to five to six provinces, most tourism operators said they will struggle to survive beyond the end of the year unless business picks up or the government can help them.

The ministry has agreed to establish a Tourism Recovery Fund worth B50-100 billion to rebuild and develop the industry, but is awaiting approval from the Finance Ministry.

“At least 50% of tourism-related businesses will permanently close if they cannot receive any effective measures from the government until the middle of next year,” Mr Phiphat said.

“But we cannot let them disappear because Thailand will be short on businesses that can accommodate tourists when things hopefully pick up.”

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Kurt | 15 November 2020 - 09:52:48

Tourism Minister warns if there is no proper plan to reopen for tourists, etc, etc. So, when is Tourist Minister coming out with a proper plan? It seems Thailand is extremely focusing on China. Almost compulsive. Do they forget the Pandemic started in China? The rest of global community did not forget and feels strange with Thai obsession to focus almost on Chinese tourists only. 

Galong | 14 November 2020 - 18:19:18

"Slowdown", good one! 555 Yep, the Chinese and golfers aren't going to trigger another wave. That's some amazing science. Just shut the country down to tourism. You've proven you can control people, which is likely the ultimate goal. You've done almost nothing to curb the actual things that kill most people in the kingdom.

Kurt | 13 November 2020 - 15:28:22

The outlook for vaccines is time wise hope giving. European Union did already place a order for 300 million vaccinations. 2 Per person, that is for 150 million people. Did Thailand already order? Or still busy with the bureaucratic paper work for it, with trying to integrate 'kick backs/commissions'.

Kurt | 13 November 2020 - 11:09:53

Is the Tourism- & Sports Minister the one who owns 6 golf courses? Or is that another Minister?

another overseas scot | 12 November 2020 - 16:56:39

There will be a vaccine in a few months. What SIMPLE process are the Thai authorities putting in place so that those with the vaccine can travel easily to Thailand with on quarantine? Anyone resident in Thailand could use the same scheme to re-renter Thailand after an overseas trip. This is not a trick question & must be quickly addresses so that something of the coming high season can be salv...


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