Tourism sentiment in the doldrums
Omicron, Ukraine crisis cloud outlook
The tourism index in the first quarter remains depressed, while the risk of more unemployment still clouds the outlook for the next quarter, mainly attributed to the Omicron variant and the Russia-Ukraine war, according to the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT).
"Tourism operators are still struggling to maintain business as the number of tourists has yet to fully rebound due to the current travel rules. This obstacle needs to be removed before more operators collapse," said Chamnan Srisawat, president of the TCT.
According to a TCT survey, which polled 200 international travellers during Feb 20-March 10, some 71% agreed that the RT-PCR test upon arrival is a troublesome process while visiting Thailand.
Meanwhile, TCT's recent tourism confidence index in the first quarter this year stood at 44, considerably improving from 36 in the same period in 2021, but still declining from 47 in the fourth quarter last year.
The index reflects weak tourism confidence as a reading below 100 indicates low confidence among the industry.
The poll, which was conducted among 740 operators during Feb 20-March 10, also found that entertainment venues, which have been affected the most by pandemic curbs, have the lowest confidence at only 20, down from 41 in the same period last year.
He said 78% of operators are struggling to increase revenue, 45% said their earnings had decreased, while 33% could marginally maintain the same level of revenue as seen in the last quarter.
Meanwhile 14% of 140 hoteliers in the survey nationwide continued to downsize staff despite the country's reopening last November.
The most affected segment is entertainment as around 44% of such venues plan to reduce the number of workers in the second quarter, followed by spas and massage parlours at 24%, and tour operators at 10%.
Mr Chamnan said Thai tourism must retain 40% of 2019's level or 1.2 trillion baht this year from 16 million international tourists and 75 million domestic trips to sustain the whole industry.
Thus, the government has to quickly scrap travel regulations, removing the complicated Thailand Pass and RT-PCR tests to ease travel as soon as possible.
In a separate development, regarding the issue of delayed payments to hotel operators who take part in the We Travel Together hotel subsidy scheme, the Tourism Authority of Thailand has established a special task force to inspect the remaining payments which accounted for 5.24% of total spending of 5.3 billion baht as of March 24.
The process will take no longer than 60 days for operators and tourists to receive payments.