Krungthai Bank’s research center has urged the tourism sector to adapt to the New Normal for domestic tourism, in order to minimize damage from COVID-19, as international tourism is not expected to recover in even the coming year.
Krungthai COMPASS, a think tank of the Krungthai Bank, has estimated Thailand’s tourism sector revenue this year will shrink by 70 percent, with only 900 billion baht revenue expected, much less than the figure before the COVID-19 pandemic, which was 3 trillion baht.
The research unit expects the tourism sector to perform slightly better in 2021, with 1.2 trillion baht in revenue expected, however this figure is still 59 percent below the usual income before COVID-19.
With this prospect in mind, Thailand’s tourism sector will have to rely heavily on domestic tourists, whose acceptance of New Normal tourism focuses on closer destinations and safety, as reflected in July’s tourism data where provinces with the highest accommodation occupancy rate, were those located close to Bangkok, such as Petchaburi and Kanchanaburi.
The center has highlighted that most Thai tourists prefer visiting destinations hosting natural attractions, adventure attractions, and cultural attractions that are less crowded. It has urged related agencies to further develop facilities for tourists at these attractions.
Krungthai COMPASS’ projections on the tourism industry next year, are based on a scenario in which a vaccine for COVID-19 starts production in early 2021, with mass access expected in late 2021.
It has also commented on a further predicted drop in the number of international tourists next year, ranging from only 900,000 persons or as many as 14 million based on government policy, saying the uncertainty will make it difficult for the tourism sector to fully recover.
Several ways of enabling the country to reopen for tourism have been discussed, such as a Travel Bubble arrangement between countries with low cases, or the reopening of only tourist islands with their own airports such as Phuket and Samui, or reopening only for certain groups of visitors, such as those seeking medical tourism opportunities, golf course enthusiasts, and long-term visitors who normally spend twice the average tourists’ expenditure.