Monday, September 28, 2020

Tourism sector will only start recovering next year, say experts

May 14. 2020
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By The Nation

Businesses that have been severely affected by the Covid-19 outbreak, especially those that rely mainly on tourism in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), are in dire need of support.

Pratya Samalapa, vice chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC), however, said it is still too early to predict when the tourism industry will recover as it relies mainly on arrivals from China.

He said there may be fewer tourists even after the government lifts travel restrictions as many countries are still struggling with the pandemic and blocking overseas travel to curb the contagion.

“After the tourism business is unlocked, there will only be some stranded Thais returning and maybe some groups arriving to hold seminars. This may help some businesses, but will not be able to stimulate recovery, especially since this region fully relies on foreign tourists,” Pratya said.

The private sector is working on tourism stimulus measures to propose to the government. The proposal will focus on domestic travel to help tourism businesses survive, before preparations can be made to take in foreign tourists once the outbreak ends.

Meanwhile, Teerin Tanyawattanakul, chair of the Chonburi Chamber of Commerce, said the agency has discussed the Phase 2 of the relaxation of measures with the provincial authorities, and is considering lifting restrictions on golf courses, parks, hotels, resorts, restaurants and tourist attractions in the province.

Tourism has been hit the hardest by the Covid-19 outbreak, with most tourists having disappeared and operators losing 80 to 90 per cent of their income.

The Chonburi and EEC Tourism Development Plan, which does not cover Pattaya City and Bangsaen, was created to promote other attractions in the province, such as the Hundred Pillar House or Ban Roi Sao.

“We expect the Covid-19 outbreak to end by the beginning of 2021 and travel should once again begin once the vaccine is found. The tourism sector in Chonburi should return to normal by the second quarter of next year,” Teerin said.

Thanate Vorasaran, vice president of the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT), said the eastern region is suffering the most and not much can be done because it relies mainly on foreign arrivals.

All borders to Thailand are still closed and no tourists are allowed to land. It is believed that Thai nationals may be allowed to travel overseas by the beginning of July, and the government may allow interprovincial travel soon if the number of new Covid-19 cases remains low.

Most foreign nationals will not be allowed to enter Thailand for most of this year, though it is believed that Chinese tourists may be allowed into the country by July as the number of infections in the country is under control. Operators believe there will be a large influx of Chinese tourists because they are not able to travel anywhere else.

“TCT predicts that the number of tourists in 2021 will match the number in 2019. Hence, it is important for operators in the tourism sector to start preparing for the influx,” Thanate said.

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