Thailand tourism may be at a record low in 2021

According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the number of international and domestic visitors to Thailand in 2021 is likely to be at a record low if the Covid-19 situation worsens, the blockade measures are prolonged in the next 3 months.

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Although Thailand has reopened to international tourists to be vaccinated against Covid-19 through the "Phuket sandbox" program and the Samui Plus Model, Thailand may only receive 1 million international visitors this year, down 82% from 6.7 million in 2020, while domestic tourism may drop to 50-60 million.

Tourism Authority of Thailand Director General Yuthasak Supasorn said that although the agency maintains its target of 3 million international visitors, it is likely to reach only a third of the target, with a revenue of 85 billion baht (equivalent to about 2.59 billion USD), down 74% compared to 2020.

Tourists visit the Royal Palace in Bangkok, Thailand. (Source: AFP).

Domestic tourism will also be reduced due to a severe outbreak leading to closures and travel restrictions in many destinations, especially with the scenario that Thailand needs 3 months of blockade to curb the number of Covid-19 infections higher.

According to the Director General of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, before the pandemic, the average Thai people made 10 million trips per month, but in the first five months of this year only 23.6 million trips were made. If Thailand takes longer than 3 months to get the situation under control, the number of domestic tourist trips may drop to 50-60 million, as the market recovery will take at least a month after the relaxation of restriction measures.

According to TAT's forecast, total tourism revenue in 2021 could decrease by 23% to 625 billion baht (about 19 billion USD), including 14% from the international market through market opening initiatives and 86% from domestic tourism.

Thailand's tourism recovery in 2021 and 2022 will still largely depend on the domestic and international epidemic situation, along with the travel regulations of each country. Pornthip Hirunkate, Vice President of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, said that the "Phuket Sandbox" program has started to see positive momentum from the European, American and Middle Eastern markets. However, she said that there are still some obstacles in the implementation such as the process of approving the Certificate of Entry (COE) for international tourists which is quite time consuming.


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