OPINION Tourism recovery- are we doing enough?
BANGKOK: The wheels of Thailand’s tourism industry are slowly turning. Travel and tourism is starting to move again.
Weekends in Hua Hin hotels for instance are close to capacity (with some resorts experiencing 90% occupancy and some even higher). Being close to Bangkok; the weather, air quality and the fact that you can drive from the metropolis definitely help. But two out of seven days are not enough and our islands, away from Bangkok are suffering the most. Domestically they receive very few guests and are EXTREMELY reliant on international travellers.
International flights into Thailand are currently not allowed for tourists. The only flights in are carrying repatriated Thai nationals or those with jobs here and holding a work permit or are invited government guests. All have to enter 14 days of quarantine on arrival.
We need international arrivals to support our tourism industry but they will not travel without flights and on arrival having to spend 2 weeks in quarantine. We cannot survive on domestic tourism alone. Last year Thailand welcomed 39.8 million guests.
We are asking for your support. To all our industry friends and professionals we ask you to talk about what our industry decision makers, government and tourism agency/ association colleagues can do to help restart flights. We need to reopen our skies.
We are grateful for the Thai government’s leadership in controlling COVID-19. Thailand was recently ranked second in the Global COVID-19 Recovery Index after Australia, and is first in Asia in the same index.
Thailand is regarded as a leading light, a flagship of Asia tourism. Thailand’s tourism industry needs flights to recover and, in turn, protect valuable jobs. Opening up a dialogue to help make it more accessible for foreign visitors to travel to Thailand is vital.
The industry requests the help from Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Yuthasak Supasorn and Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn. PM Prayut Chan-ocha announced that international travel is possible on a bilateral basis. No further details however have been released.
The Thai Government has done an excellent job in controlling the coronavirus pandemic with only 3,135 infections and just 58 deaths. They are to be congratulated. It is encouraging to note that Thailand has logged no new local Covid-19 infections for the past 21 days. As we move into the recovery phase we need to now restart international flights into and out of Thailand.
Without air lift, recovery for some businesses will simply not happen. 1000 tourists, which is the maximum figure per day the government are suggesting, will in our opinion be too few to support the tourism industry.
Thailand’s tourism industry, is a major employer, which directly and indirectly affects millions. For almost two decades, the industry has been providing employment for 1-in-10 of all workers here.
The peripheral grey market that supports tourism has also been widely affected. The street vendors for instance and other low paid informal workers struggle daily.
It is important to all business owners to keep our valued employees and maintain trust with them. Please help support the tourism industry’s call to allow international tourists to once again revisit these shores.
In your webinars and zoom meetings; in your social media interactions and discussions and industry meetings, please ensure that your opinion on restarting international flights and protecting tourism jobs are made known.
Andrew J Wood
President Skål International Bangkok