Tourism council predicts 1.4m foreign arrivals

Tourism council predicts 1.4m foreign arrivals

Business remains quiet on Khao San Road, a popular strip for foreign visitors in Bangkok. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)
Business remains quiet on Khao San Road, a popular strip for foreign visitors in Bangkok. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

Foreign tourist arrivals could tally 3 million this year under the best-case scenario, while the tourism confidence index in the second quarter plunged to its lowest point as 2 million people lost their jobs, according to the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT).

"In addition to faster vaccination for 10 pilot tourism areas, the key factors that affect the volume of tourists are the readiness of Bangkok, which is the aviation hub of Thailand, and whether the Chinese government will allow tourists to take overseas trips by October," said Vichit Prakobgosol, TCT vice-president.

The areas selected to reopen for tourism comprise: Phuket, Krabi, Phangnga, Surat Thani, Chiang Mai, Chon Buri, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Buri Ram and Bangkok.

TCT devised four projections for the tourism industry. The best case sees the country welcoming 3 million tourists, generating 212 billion baht, if the 10 provinces can reopen and Chinese travellers can take outbound trips from October.

If Beijing does not allow overseas travel, the total number decreases to 2 million, generating 152 billion baht.

However, Mr Vichit said 1.4 million foreign arrivals contributing 107 billion baht is the most likely scenario.

He believes China will not extend travel restrictions as it has to test its reopening plan for the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.

TCT also raised concerns over the delayed vaccine rollout in Bangkok, the epicentre of a recent wave, which may cause the whole country to miss the premier's reopening target of mid-October.

For the worst-case scenario, if Bangkok remains closed and Chinese tourists cannot take outbound trips, total foreign arrivals could number 1 million, generating 83 billion baht.

The council's recent tourism confidence index saw a massive drop to 11 from 36 in the first quarter, setting a new low by undercutting the 12 recorded during the lockdown in the second quarter of 2020.

The index polled 725 tourism-related operators from May 15-30. A reading below 100 indicates low confidence.

Some 74% of operators have sufficient liquidity to maintain business for only six more months under current conditions without financial aid. A full 73% of operators want soft loans of up to 3 million baht to restart their business.

Chamnan Srisawat, TCT president, said unemployment for the sector peaked at 2 million, up from 1.45 million in the first quarter. The government's goal to reopen by mid-October should allow some workers in sandbox areas to return to their job, he said.

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