Thai tourism industry recovering with extra push from visa leniency
Hotel occupation nationwide rose to 47.5 per cent in August, up from 45.1 per cent in July, and is expected to continue rising this month as Thailand lifts all restrictions.
The Thai Hotels Association (THA) said on Sunday that recovery began in the middle of this year when the occupation rate in July rose sharply from June’s 38.2 per cent.
THA said most tourists are from Asia and the Middle East, followed by arrivals from western Europe.
“This has encouraged several hotels to start hiring new employees, so they can be trained in time for the high season [November to early March],” THA said. “Hotels that target mainly foreigners have also started reopening since July after several months of shutting down during the pandemic.”
According to THA’s statistics, a Thai tourist spends an average of 1.7 nights in hotel, compared to 3.3 nights by a foreign visitor. This makes foreigners a higher spending group.
THA said it expects to see more foreign arrivals from September onwards now that the lowered fee for Long-Term Resident (LTR) visa has gone into effect. From September 1, the fee for an LTR visa has been halved from 100,000 baht to 50,000 baht. This visa targets four groups of foreigners: the wealthy, retirees, those who want to work in Thailand and experts.
Up to four family members, including children no older than 20, can be included in the same visa.
The government is also offering extended visas for tourists. For instance, visa-on-arrival for travellers from 18 countries will be extended from 15 days to 30, while those from 50 countries who get a 30-day stamp will be allowed to stay for 45 days. This measure will run from October 1 to March 31.
THA, however, has warned hotel operators to prepare for negative factors during the rest of the year that can affect tourism, such as high inflation that will reduce tourists’ spending power, the storage of skilled staff in the hospitality industry and the possibility of a new wave of Covid-19 infections.
The association added that concern of a monkeypox outbreak is still relatively low because there have been very few confirmed patients in Thailand. Also, the virus can only be transmitted via intimate physical contact.