TAT maps out new targets for tourism
The tourism industry is expected to hit rock bottom this year with total revenue of 328 billion baht but will rebound next year and reach 80% of its 2019 level in 2023, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
The kingdom has been rocked by global travel restrictions caused by the novel coronavirus, resulting in only 100,000 inbound tourists expected this year, down from 6.7 million last year, said TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn.
However, these receipts will rebound to 50% of their 2019 level by next year and improve another 30% in 2023 as Thailand moves to attract higher-spending tourists, he said.
Meanwhile, domestic trips are expected to stand at 60 million by year-end, down 34% from 90.52 million trips last year. This market has also been affected by waves of Covid-19 outbreaks since last year, particularly over Songkran.
However, the situation has already shown signs of improvement this month, prompting the government to resume two stimulus campaigns, We Travel Together and Tour Teaw Thai, from Oct 15 to Jan 1. The latter offers subsidies to travellers.
As such, total revenue this year should hit 328 billion baht, marking a drop of 60% from 2020, Mr Yuthasak said.
Despite the nascent success of sandbox schemes in areas like Phuket, the partial reopening to international tourists is expected to create just 8.25 billion baht this year, mainly in the current quarter.
"In the past we saw two-thirds of revenue derived from international revenue. This is the main reason the government is accelerating the reopening scheme, as domestic tourism alone can't save the industry," he added.
"The tourism figures for this year might spell bad news for industry, but hopefully next year we can leap forward to a better position as we aim to gain back revenue of at least 50% of 2019, which was our best year on record."
Thailand welcomed 40 million international arrivals in 2019.
Mr Yuthasak said authorities will try to make up for lost income by doubling the amount foreign tourists spend to 82,576 baht per person, up from 49,700 baht prior to the pandemic.
This target aligns with the government's policy of doubling down on value-added, sustainable and more eco-friendly tourism.
Besides Phuket and Samui, the two key pilot areas, any province can apply for a sandbox scheme if it has achieved a 70% vaccination rate, among other measures.
Mr Yuthasak said that newly reopened areas will be marked as Blue Zones and will be free to impose their own relaxed safety regulations.
"Most economic forecasts expect Thailand will see a K-shaped recovery, meaning economic inequality will widen," he said.
"To precipitate a V-shaped recovery, we need to reform the industry in certain ways."