The corona effects on the tourism sector in Thailand

Living in Thailand
Empty Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand

Warning : Following writing is based on my personal experience while living in Thailand and what I personal think about it. Due to the Corona Crisis worldwide International Traveling is at an almost standstill. Since a few months all borders of Thailand are closed, although now (end July 2020) some foreigners are allowed to enter Thailand. This of course has a huge effect on the tourism sector in Thailand. But mind you there are a few other sectors / groups of people in Thailand that are hugely effected by it.
  • Schools need foreigner teachers but if a foreigner wants to go work for a school he will need to get an other visa. And that can only be given at an embassy outside Thailand.
  • Factories & construction depend on cheap labour from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. But they all left Thailand and now can not come back.
  • Tourists stranded in Thailand because they could not return to their home country.
  • Thai people (with family) abroad that can not return to Thailand.
But let's get back to international tourisme, what is said to be 20% of the GDP of Thailand. In general that is not a huge impact you would think, but I think indirectly much more business are depending on international tourism. And in places like Phuket, Koh Samui, Pattaya maybe 50-60% of the people have income from international tourism. At a place like Chiang Mai it will be a bit less, maybe 30-40%? So in places like that the impact of the lack of international tourisme is huge. And financial buffers or financial support from the government is very limited. So yes the impact on a personal level must be huge for some people. For me personally I lost some projects and our homestay has been closed for 5 months. And running it now costs a bit more money.

And the impact on travel companies or hotels & restaurants that rely mostly on international travellers must devastating. A loose of income of probably 100% but still costs to keep the company alive. Now most of the bigger companies will have a financial buffer, but smaller ones? The small family business? I know a few in all categories and surviving for them is hard. Some of them terminate their TAT registered business and get their deposit back from TAT.

But Thailand is not only Pattaya, Phuket, Chiang Mai .... I am living in Nan province where domestic tourisme starts to be booming. Here nobody really noticed the lack of international tourisme. Most people are farmers and the tourism sector here depends on Thai people. And as Thai people for the moment can not travel outside Thailand they all will be traveling in Thailand. The government is even creating a few long weekends to stimulate domestic traveling. And due to the previous lockdown new business have started here in Nan province, new restaurants, delivery companies, etc. So here in Pua during a long weekend all hotels are full and restaurants & coffee shops are doing a very good business. As there is a huge middle class who have money and who love to travel.

But .... that all said this Corona Crisis ain't over yet and I doubt if the borders of Thailand will open in 2020. Personally I do not think that normal international traveling worldwide will be back this year 2020. So the question is "How long it will take before the lack of income & funds will trickle down the all economy of Thailand?". And how can the government balance the corona measures between safety and economy? It will be a challenging time ahead for many people in Thailand.


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