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Tourism veering from bad to worse

BANGKOK: Airlines and hotels dubbed the tourism situation this year as being a worse crisis than the first outbreak of the pandemic, leaving them to cling to the hope of a remedy from the government.

tourismeconomicsCOVID-19
By Bangkok Post

Wednesday 17 February 2021, 09:29AM


Aircraft of Thai AirAsia and Thai Airways International are parked at Suvarnabhumi airport. The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand reported that the number of domestic passengers stumbled 27.1% year-on-year in the fourth quarter, while international flights dropped by 99.1% during the period. Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul / Bangkok Post

Aircraft of Thai AirAsia and Thai Airways International are parked at Suvarnabhumi airport. The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand reported that the number of domestic passengers stumbled 27.1% year-on-year in the fourth quarter, while international flights dropped by 99.1% during the period. Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul / Bangkok Post

Tassapon Bijleveld, executive chairman of Asia Aviation, the largest shareholder of Thai AirAsia (TAA), said when international tourists return in the future, Thailand might not have enough supply to serve them as most operators have already shut down due to financial problems, reports the Bangkok Post.

Unlike the hotel business that saw 6 million room nights in the stimulus campaign fully redeemed, the air ticket quota of 2mn seats still has over 1.3mn seats available, even though the government increased the subsidy from B2,000 to B3,000 in December.

Mr Tassapon said those figures proved that local tourists skipped flying and shifted to destinations within driving distance, particularly after the fresh wave of COVID-19 starting from December.

Combined with lower purchasing power and travel restrictions in some areas, all airlines will see an even more opaque future as the industry already witnesses fewer flights per day at the moment, he said.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand reported that the number of domestic passengers tumbled 27.1% year-on-year in the fourth quarter, while international flights dropped by 99.1% in the period.

TAA is now only operating 20 flights per day on average with just 10 aircraft, down from 40 jets prior to the second outbreak, while it has a total of 62 in the fleet.

“Not only are airlines facing an impact, but half of the restaurants and shops in Don Mueang airport have had to close temporarily which could indicate the lower level of consumption,” said Mr Tassapon.

He said all airlines may have to wait further for the soft loans under the supervision of the Export-Import Bank of Thailand (Exim Bank) as the government is likely to push aside this proposal until the no-confidence debate this week passes.

“We really have no idea about the details of the proposal from Exim Bank and don’t know when the cabinet will mull this issue. It’s like we’re walking with blind eyes during the crisis now,” said Mr Tassapon.

Thai Residential

TAA suspended 75% of its workforce this month, offering most of them a leave-without-pay option, as it still hopes the situation will improve in the future. But he admitted that it’s hard to give any forecast right now.

The tourism outlook for this year faces dimmer prospects again as the National Economic and Social Development Council on Monday predicted that the number of international tourists will plunge by half to 3.2mn compared with 6.7mn last year, down from an earlier estimate of 5mn.

Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of the Thai Hotels Association, said the crisis this time is more difficult to deal with as it’s hard to predict when business can get back to normal.

“When we seek loans, banks always request our business plan or the period we can earn profit, but under these circumstances, hotels don’t really have a clue when business will get back to normal," according to Ms Marisa.

She said 50% of hotels nationwide have been closed, while remaining hotel operators and their workforce struggle to survive.

Even though some hotels maintain positions for employees, their living standards were poorer as there was no service charge which is considered a mainstream revenue source for the hospitality business.

Some hotels have to offer their properties as shelters for workers as some of them were not able to pay their rent.

“We need support from the government, or else we could see the whole tourism industry collapse before things get back to a better shape,” said Ms Marisa.

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Christy Sweet | 19 February 2021 - 12:32:23

Maybe now since it's a forced situation, Thailand and other developing nations will see the folly in dependence on pollution creating tourism and develop green, sustainable economies instead.  I can dream.. 

maverick | 19 February 2021 - 10:53:08

It’s not a scam it benefits those who are not travel and internet savvy - many seasoned travelers  know it’s been possible to get the same or better deals on line 

Kurt | 19 February 2021 - 00:23:13

@CaptainJack69.  If true what you stated, than Government Officials should step forward to explain why the stimulus campaign actually is a scam. Who profiteer of it? How they think to sell this scam to foreign tourists? Tourists today are aware of  
Thai scams, scams easy to find out about and making the LOS expression even more very negative. 

CaptainJack69 | 18 February 2021 - 13:18:20

Well, no one used the flights in the stimulus campaign because when you actually looked at them you saw they were more expensive than the rates the airlines were charging for direct bookings themselves. Add to that how bad the booking platform was and how confusing the whole system and it's no wonder it failed. The discount on rooms isn't much easier to get.

Galong | 17 February 2021 - 18:48:21

@Foot - yep, and whatever is 'predicted' to be the impact of tourism loss on the economy is definitely wrong. It's a massive far-reaching industry that is likely incalculable as so many people don't declare income in the LOS to avoid taxes.

Galong | 17 February 2021 - 18:46:03

Our small tour company was fine until the second wave thanks to the Samut Sakhon seafood market and gambling dens fiasco.  Everyone involved in that should have been put in jail for an extremely long time for destroying the economy as it affected so many businesses.

Kurt | 17 February 2021 - 16:11:23

In Thailand goes a lot along the line of..'We think'..  That is of course just a nonsense reality. Thinking, what thinking? Based on what? Dreaming about gone times? Wake up. Get real. Stop that international tourist dreaming for the coming years. Seems the Thai not willing/refuse to understand the misery in countries were the tourist have to come from. Wake up! Try to understand.

Foot | 17 February 2021 - 11:41:48

It's unfortunate that folks in Thailand choose to believe all their own predictions.  What did they expect would happen when the tourism industry shut down?  Thailand will not be competitive in a few years when things start improving because they weren't taking steps to do so and chose to stick their heads in the sand and deny the reality this will last for years.

 

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