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Tourism Industry in Thailand Struggling to Stay Alive

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Thailand was one of the first places to reopen to tourists late last year, but under confusing rules – including seven-day quarantine – travelers complained the small print failed to match the big announcements.

Horror stories of people testing positive on arrival and being shunted into 14-day quarantine – paid for from their own pocket – bounced around travel blogs and Twitter.

After Thailand dropped its “Test and Go” quarantine policy, vaccine visitors can now enter freely. Thailand Pass, a pre-entry requirement scheme, is likely to be abandoned this June.

It’s hoped that five to fifteen million tourists will have visited by the end of the year. The Southeast Asian country prepares to declare Coronavirus endemic and throws open the door to a travel-starved world.

Despite the banner headlines about the reopening, tourism continues to be far below its pre-pandemic levels. Thailand attracted more than 40 million tourists and generated over $60 billion in revenues during its peak, accounting for up to a fifth of its GDP.

No Chinese tourists in Thailand

Meanwhile, forward bookings for 2022 showed a 25 percent increase over normal levels last month. Singapore and the Philippines, meanwhile, have 72 percent and 65 percent, respectively.

The Government expects those who do visit between now and the end of the year – most of whom will be European, American, Middle Eastern, or Indian — to spend at least 630 billion baht (18 billion US dollars) in the country, providing a much-needed boost to incomes as inflation consumes purchasing power.

Earlier this month, analysts at JP Morgan issued a pessimistic outlook for Thailand’s economic recovery, citing Beijing’s draconian “dynamic zero COVID” policies as one reason for their pessimism.

Hoteliers throughout Thailand do not expect a return to the boom times until Chinese tourists, who made up more than 25% of arrivals before the pandemic, return.

Larger economic forces also threaten the tourism industry’s revival. Middle-class families around the world are suffering from rising living costs.

Source: Aljazeera

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