Tourism goals dashed after third Covid surge

Tourism goals dashed after third Covid surge

Local residents enjoy Kamala beach on Phuket island on April 2, 2021. (Reuters photo)
Local residents enjoy Kamala beach on Phuket island on April 2, 2021. (Reuters photo)

The government has halved its expected number of international visitors to 3-4 million this year and slashed its tourism revenue forecast.

Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said this month's third outbreak of Covid-19 had battered tourism sentiment just as it was showing signs of rebounding after the second virus surge subsided.

Total tourism revenue for 2021 was being revised down from 1.218 trillion baht to 850 billion baht, the minister said.

Mr Phiphat pointed to yesterday's new daily record of 2,070 infections and the great uncertainty over how the pandemic would pan out.

All things combined, he said, any hope of the country achieving its previous goal of attracting 6.5 million foreign tourists this year had been shattered.

His ministry had now revised down its tourism revenue target from 348 billion baht to 300 billion, with the other 550 billion baht coming from the domestic market, down from its earlier forecast of 870 billion.

The government is now expecting international arrivals in 2021 to be just 3-4 million, a little over half its previous forecast of 6.5 million.

Meanwhile, local tourists are tipped to take about 100-120 million trips this year, down from 160 million in the previous forecast, after the pandemic destroying tourism sentiment during the Songkran holidays.

However, authorities will continue with their plan to bring in vaccinated international visitors via a pilot project called Phuket Sandbox in July.

The Tourism and Sports Ministry will help distribute Covid-19 vaccines to cover 70% of Phuket's residents to prepare for international tourists.

The government is also gearing up to procure more vaccines to cover those in need.



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