Thailand’s foreign tourism industry will take at least 4 years to recover to pre-Covid levels, leading Asia economists report

PHOTO: Manager Online

National –

Inbound tourism in Thailand will take another four years to fully recover to the pre-Covid situation after the hardship caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to CNBC reports.

The news agency reported on Friday, October 29th, regarding the situation of Covid-19 in Thailand and the relaxation of disease control measures prior to the preparation of country reopening in November despite the fact that less than half, accountable for about 42 percent, of Thailand’s population, has been fully vaccinated.

Sian Fenner, the lead Asia economist for Oxford Economics, forecasted that Thailand’s inbound tourism will not significantly recover in 2022 even though foreign tourist arrivals are expected to be a 66 percent improvement from 2020/2021, but still below pre-Covid levels in 2019.

In fact, the economists do not expect a full recovery in inbound travel to pre-Covid levels until 2025.

PHOTO: Thansettakij

Fenner stated to CNBC: “Among the region’s economies, Thailand is one of the ‘most dependent’ on tourism, accounting for around 21 percent of GDP in 2019, especially if the “grey” economy is included in this which is informal and often not reported.”

“Travel restrictions have come at a huge economic and social cost and has been a key reason why Thailand’s economic recovery has lagged behind many of its peers in the region.”

Other factors also play crucial roles in the recovery as foreign visitors may still face quarantine requirements in their home countries, not to mention the fact that Thailand is still on the list of high-risk countries for many other countries.

Meanwhile, Bank of America economists said the reopening was good news for Thailand’s tourism sector, economic recovery, and currency but there are still risks as the overall vaccination rate is way too low to prevent an outbreak, particularly against the Delta variant.

While in other countries in the regions such as Cambodia, Malaysia, and Singapore, more than 78%, 75%, and 82% of their population have received the full dose of vaccination, respectively. Thailand has heavily vaccinated tourism areas, such as Phuket, Pattaya, and Bangkok, however, hoping this will help make up for lower numbers in other parts of the country that are largely rural or do not rely on tourism.

The economists also highlighted that Chinese tourists, which accounted for about a quarter of tourist arrivals in Thailand in 2019, are also not expected to return until the second half of 2022 as China has closed most of its borders to international travel since last year to carry out its strict “zero-Covid” strategy.

China is not expected to relax its stance on “Zero Covid” until after the Winter Olympics.


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National News Writer at The Pattaya News from September 2020 to October 2022. Born and raised in Bangkok, Nop enjoys telling stories of her hometown through her words and pictures. Her educational experience in the United States and her passion for journalism have shaped her genuine interests in society, politics, education, culture, and art.