As global tourism collapses, so does the Thai orchid industry where the flowers are regarded as a symbol of hospitality. Global demand for Thai orchids to Dutch tulips and Kenyan roses, has plummeted. Above all as businesses and hotels shutter worldwide and consumers stay at home.
Millions of orchids – used to decorate hotels and restaurants, and for celebrations and events – are being cut and thrown out daily. Because they can’t find a buyer, according to Mr Sompong Thaveesuk, vice-president of the Thai Orchids Garden Enterprise Association.
“There are barely any buyers, and even if we wanted to export orchids, we can’t. Because most of the passenger flights, which usually carry them, have been cancelled,” said Mr Sompong. He estimates that the demand for orchids was down 95 per cent.
Thailand exports more than half of all the orchids it grows in a global industry worth hundreds of millions of dollars. But it’s not just the orchid exporters who are struggling.
Demand from domestic buyers has also plunged Bloomberg reports. Because tourism, which normally contributes about a fifth of the economy, is at a standstill.
Thai orchid growers and exporters, employing some 50,000 workers. They are now focusing now on keeping the farms going, while they wait for buyers to return.