Thailand Has Been Through Others, But…
This is not the first crisis in Thailand, it has been through others. AIDS in the 80s, 9/11 which changed the world of travel with sometimes extreme security measures, SARS between November 2002 end of 2003 (9 cases, 2 deaths) the Tsunami in 2004 which after the shock, soon saw the tourists coming back. The crisis of 2008 which was purely economic and despite significant difficulties, had recovered fairly quickly, but before that in 1997 went through the “Tom Yam Kung” crisis, whose vestiges can be seen of unfinished buildings, such as the unique 49-story Sathorn Road tower, now known as Ghost Tower. Not to mention two coups (2006, 2014) and a violent political crisis (2010). But this time it is entirely different from the coronavirus Covid-19, a crisis which is not only economic but above all the fear of the disease and its sudden and devastating consequences for the tourism industry.
An Industry in Trouble
Brutal, a whole sector, tourism, which from January (the first known case outside China) in high season was immediately hit and got into the crisis by a sharp drop in Chinese tourists. Of course hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, tour operators/guides/bus and all the trade associated with tourism, even the elephants are “jobless”, but also prostitution. Some may have no choice but to disappear from the tourist scene for good. The airline sector and obviously not spared, the domestic and international flights when the airlines decided to leave their fleet on the ground have been canceled, and neighboring countries have closed their land borders Malaysia has just decided to reopen its borders on April 18th.
In 2019 although tourism has had difficulties with the loss of European travelers, especially Russian travelers due mainly to the value of the baht, but also to greater tourist numbers in the neighboring countries, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam. The country welcomed nearly 40 million visitors in 2019, the figures for 2020 have been revised downwards,16 million whereas the TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand) had a target of more than 40 million. Tourism represents 12 to 14% of the GDP and millions of people depend on it.
Many Bangkokians have fled the capital and returned to their province to stay with their families, as well as many Burmese and Cambodian workers who are mainly employed in the industrial sector and tourism-related trades. Their return may raise questions knowing that these countries also affected have not had a policy of containment or very late in Cambodia, as for Myanmar nothing appears to be really sure of the situation in this country where the authorities as of April 17 recognize only 107 cases of contaminated and 5 deaths. Burmese authorities Have just enforced a night curfew in Yangon from 10pm to 4am no date of duration has been communicated.
One thing is certain: the Covid-19 crisis means that it will not be the same as before. I think that the first tourists to travel again will be Thai people who I hope will take advantage of the attractive offers of stays but also at the same time will certainly help to revive the industry in great trouble until now. If I think that Europeans, Americans and even Japanese will take their time before coming back, Thailand can still count on the Chinese market (11 million people visited Thailand in 2019), for which the kingdom remains an attractive destination of “proximity” and not expensive, although the rainy season marks a slowdown of visitors. The rainy season that farmers and authorities would like to see happening as soon as possible, the country is in a situation that is recurring almost every year, drought, but 2020 seems to be very serious.
However, it seems to me that it will take months for tourist activities to be revived and maybe a year before the tourists come back in numbers.
Optimism or Pessimism Four Scenarios
– The worst, a second wave
– would be good, the virus dissipates and becomes less deadly
– Perfect it disappears on its own
– We know that will take time before a vaccine puts a definitive end to this scourge and life goes back to the way it was before.
But I think It is very likely that at bet if tourism is possible in the coming months, there should be some justification or administrative constraints for departure and/or arrival in addition to what is done in normal times.
Also, I want to be optimistic that the world of tourism will become more responsible and respectful of the environment and nature.
Of course, as soon as it is open I will go to shrine Erawan to make offerings, wishes, and prayers to Phra Phrom.
The coronavirus has claimed 47 victims and 2,733 have been affected so far. The country is under containment until April 30, for the time being, not prolonged. It was finally extended to May 31.
Take care of yourself
Hope to see you soon
If you have any questions, I’ll be happy to help you.