TAT: New infections weigh on trips

TAT: New infections weigh on trips

Expected tally falls to 95m domestically

The Covid-19 infections that spread from the seafood market in Samut Sakhon are likely to ruin tourism sentiment, hobbling domestic trips to 95 million this year, says the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said if there were no cases in Samut Sakhon, domestic trips would have hit 100 million trips. With the wider outbreak, Thailand may get close to only 500 billion baht from the domestic market this year.

The negative sentiment were seen among those exposed to virus risks and the family segment.

People will continue with tourism activities during the New Year when they visit home provinces.

"The new surge is the test for the effectiveness of the healthcare system," Mr Yuthasak said.

TAT previously had a plan to boost the tourism market for the North by hosting the countdown celebration in Chiang Mai, the agency will have to hold discussions with the provincial governor again tomorrow on whether to go ahead or cancel the event.

The year-end celebrations in Bangkok will depend on the private sector's decision. If organisers insist on going forward, they have to comply with regulations from the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

"Some provinces are being alerted against mass gatherings and may not want to see people from other provinces come in for celebrations anymore, which is yet another dilemma," said Mr Yuthasak.

Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of the Thai Hotels Association, said a big cluster of infections in Samut Sakhon has seen tourists in surrounding areas prolonging their travel plans to avoid infection.

Hotel bookings were cancelled while hoteliers saw lower income than expected during the festive season.

Organisers will also have sunk costs for events as they have already paid singers, DJs and actors.

Vichit Prakobgosol, president of Association of Thai Travel Agents, said the international market will see more positive movement during the first half of next year as many countries are expected to carry out mass vaccinations.

Those countries are also major targets for Thai tourism, such as China, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea.

Mr Vichit said when people have more confidence to travel, Thailand may get at least 1 million visitors during the first six months of next year, which can help some operators stay afloat.

He said if Thailand has to wait for the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca to be distributed in the middle of next year, the country will fall behind others that receive vaccines from China's Sinovac Biotech, such as Indonesia and Singapore.

The association will arrange further discussions on the vaccine with the Tourism and Sports Ministry this week.

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