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Thailand promotes domestic travel to ease the impact of the epidemic on tourism

Date: 2020-08-25

Domestic tourism, which accounts for 30% of the Thai tourism market, has become a "life-saving straw" for the tourism industry's recovery.

According to data released by the National Economic and Social Development Committee of Thailand a few days ago, due to the global spread of the new crown epidemic, the number of international tourists has dropped sharply, and Thailand’s pillar industry tourism has suffered heavy losses. This has caused Thailand’s economy to shrink by 12.2% in the second quarter of this year, and the degree of economic contraction for the whole year It is likely to exceed the period of the Asian financial crisis at the end of the last century.

In 2019, the number of international tourists arriving in Thailand reached a record 39.8 million, and total consumption accounted for 11.4% of Thailand's GDP. The government estimated last year that there will be 40 million international tourists arriving in Thailand in 2020. However, mentioning these data now seems "like a world away." Previously, the Tourism Authority of Thailand estimated that only 14 million foreign tourists will visit Thailand this year, which is the lowest record in 14 years. The Central Bank of Thailand’s forecast is even more pessimistic. The number of international tourists arriving in Thailand may be only 8 million.

Khao San Road, a famous commercial street in Bangkok, Thailand, was originally bustling. "Many businesses here have closed. If foreign tourists can't return to Thailand in the short term, we may also be closed. There will be some local customers on weekends, but it is not enough to keep us going." A local restaurant waiter told the media Say.

As the epidemic continues to spread, the global tourism industry has fallen into serious uncertainty. In June this year, the Thailand Epidemic Management Center announced that it intends to open restrictive tourism to some countries to promote the further recovery of the tourism industry. However, travelers need to purchase a certain amount of insurance and be sure that they are not infected with the new crown virus, and their trips in Thailand will also be tracked. Moreover, the target groups of this measure are mainly business people and medical tourists.

But these measures are not enough to bring enough international visitors. Many officials of the Tourism Authority of Thailand said that the epidemic may completely change the "landscape" of the tourism industry. The scene of crowds of tourists and buses lining up in front of Bangkok’s famous tourist attractions may be difficult to reproduce. Thailand must prepare for the new reality.

At this stage, the Thai government is working hard to promote the development of domestic tourism. The domestic tourism market, which accounts for about 30% of the Thai tourism market, has become the "life-saving straw" for the tourism industry to recover. The government has stimulated domestic tourism by issuing hotel, restaurant, air ticket coupons, and rewarding travel for frontline medical personnel in the fight against the epidemic. In the resort of Samed Island, almost all hotel charges have been reduced by half. The island’s Rayong province also holds food festivals, music festivals and other activities to attract domestic tourists.

In an interview with reporters, the Director of the National Tourism Administration of Thailand, Yu Tasha, said that the promotion of domestic tourism "cannot fundamentally solve the problem, but hopes to make the tourism industry run and allow tourism practitioners to "live"."

As the government encourages policies to give effect, more and more local residents in Thailand choose to visit tourist attractions on weekends. However, some tourism practitioners are not optimistic about this. They believe that there is a “ceiling” for “domestic tourism” to drive tourism, and the competent authority needs to formulate targeted development strategies to adapt to the new reality of tourism development under the epidemic.