GlobalData suggests Thailand can proceed with tourism recovery pilot despite surge in COVID-19 cases
Despite the recently reported surge in COVID-19 cases in Thailand - 967 new COVID-19 cases on 11th April 2021 - Animesh Kumar, Director of Travel and Tourism Consulting at GlobalData, a leading research and consulting company, offers his view that if the “majority of the locals in the Phuket island are vaccinated and if sufficient measures are in place for smooth arrival and departure of vaccinated international tourists, Thailand can potentially go ahead with the pilot for reopening tourism regardless of whether the COVID-19 surge has been controlled or not.
“The news casts a shadow over Thailand’s plans to reopen tourism and allow quarantine-free visit to the vaccinated international tourists from July 2021 under a pilot in Phuket. It is crucial for the authorities as well as citizens to ensure that the spread of the highly contagious variant is controlled as it threatens not only the health and safety but also the economic revival plans. Despite the threat looming on the tourism industry, Thailand is still keen on going ahead with its Phuket pilot project of reviving the tourism, although with proper safety measures.
“Thailand economy is heavily dependent on tourism as the industry contributes 17-18% to the gross domestic product (GDP) in Thailand. Last year, due to COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant impact on the tourism industry, the Thai economy witnessed its biggest slump in last two decades. ‘Household debts’ has been mounting and this is putting additional pressure on the government, which is already reeling from the pandemic, inactivity in tourism industry and the pro-democracy demonstrations.
“It may be argued that considering the current situation, it is probably not prudent for Thai authorities to go ahead with the plans to reopen tourism. While there is merit in the argument, there is still time for Thailand to control the spread of the virus. As part of the pilot in Phuket, the authorities are aiming to vaccinate at least 70% of the population in Phuket before July and it is critical that the plan does not get derailed.
“Thai economy is in a desperate situation and the revival of tourism activity is of paramount importance. A tourism friendly bio-bubble must be created in Phuket and other destinations across the globe, which are attempting to revive tourism.
Image: Anantara Layan Phuket Resort
31st March 2021 - Phuket first to open without quarantine in Thailand
12th January 2021 - Thailand’s tourism sector continues to reopen safely and slowly
6th January 2021 - Thailand welcomes the New Year with 25,000 eco-friendly firework display
23rd December 2020 - Thailand looks to slow and safe border reopening to international visitors