Thailand dabbles in small numbers as tourism sector slips into a coma

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Thailand dabbles in small numbers as tourism sector slips into a coma

Written By - Patra Manas.

As small business owners in the tourism sector wait desperately for a reopening of the country, the government is obliging by opening to groups of tourists on a Special Travel Visa ( STV) visa status, with a 14-day quarantine from China and Scandinavia in October.

However, before we get excited, take a look at the numbers. A  total of 1,200 tourists are expected in the entire month of October.

It begs the question, why bother?

Will SMEs benefit from these campaigns? 

The campaign is in a test mode of trying out small numbers of tourists from relatively Covid-free countries. If the 1,200 tourists represents the test sample size and if the experiment proves successful, what will the projected trajectory of incoming tourists in the upcoming months going to look like? Will it be 1,200 in October, 10,000 in November and 100,000 in December? Continue reading below

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It’s just not enough to revive the SMEs in this sector across the country.

Alternatively, the financial resources poured into supporting these going-nowhere campaigns could be better channelled towards supporting the SMEs in the tourism sector, making sure they have the resources to stay afloat until we can fully open.

Tourists are attracted to Thailand not only for its beaches, mountains and scenic beauty but also for the massive variety of services supplied by small business owners in virtually every corner of Thailand,  bringing a buzz and vibrant feeling resulting in an incredible holiday atmosphere.

It can be argued that it is the existence of such a robust and bustling SME tourism ecosystem in Thailand that drove the massive tourism traffic to Thailand.

If this ecosystem is destroyed as business owners close shop, tourists will return post Covid to a very different Thailand.

Would we ever see tourism contribute to almost 20% of the country’s GDP ever again as it did pre-pandemic?

Unlikely, unless we revive SMEs out of their coma now.