Famous Talay Thai market faces economic uncertainty
Vendors and fishermen struggle to stay afloat amid outbreak
Suraiporn Teksuwan, a 36-year-old fresh seafood vendor at Talay Thai market in tambon Tha Chin of Muang district of this Central Plains province, says trade has plummeted since the Covid-19 outbreak.
"It is difficult to sell fresh seafood at the moment because tourists, especially groups of Chinese tourists, have dried up. During the peak tourist season I earned about 16,000-30,000 baht a day or about 400,000-900,000 baht a month from selling fresh seafood especially crabs.
"But now my earnings have dropped more than 50%. I earn about 4,000-9,000 baht a day or about 100,000–270,000 baht a month,'' Ms Suraiporn said.
Before the outbreak, the Talay Thai market, the most famous seafood market in Samut Sakhon, was crowded with Thai and foreign tourists who bought fresh seafood or ate out at restaurants here. But all has been quiet for months.
Few seafood shops and stalls are still open, and each sells no more than 20-30 kilogrammes per day, Ms Suraiporn says.
Ms Suraiporn has been selling fresh seafood at the market for eight years. She has never faced such a situation before. Covid-19 is wreaking havoc on many businesses and industries especially in the seafood trade.
However, she said the seafood business started to decline with the New Year festival.
She said the economic downturn forced many food processing factories in Samut Sakhon to close, with many workers laid off.
Another seafood vendor at the market who asked not to be named said he was struggling to sell seafood and urge the government to help.
"I used to earn anything from 100,000 baht up to a million baht a day selling dried seafood products at the market, but since the Covid-19 outbreak that has fallen to 10,000 baht per day," he said.
Pramote Saengsuk-iam, a 60-year-old fisherman at tambon Tha Chalom in Muang district, said he and local fishermen in this coastal province have also been hit by Covid-19.
"We can't sell out our catch to vendors at Talay Thai market because they have stopped buying our seafood since the Covid-19 outbreak.
"We understand the situation well as the seafood business at the market is also down,'' Mr Pramote says.
Mr Pramote, who has been working as a fisherman for 40 years, said the market is Samut Sakhon's economic hub where local fishermen from the province, Ranong, Chumphon and Prachuap Khiri Khan bring their catch to sell to vendors.
However, Mr Pramote, also a community volunteer of Ban Tha Chalom Tourist Information Centre in the province, said he does not see the need for the province to relax the lockdown restrictions because he is still unsure about the Covid-19 risk.
"I'm afraid a second wave of infections will erupt if restrictions are eased,'' he said, adding Samut Sakhon is also home to many foreign workers from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos. He agreed with the government continuing to enforce the emergency decree for another month.
The kingdom has recorded 2,947 Covid-19 cases as of Wednesday.