Thailand recorded only 6,556 foreign tourist arrivals in December, or 0.17% of the number reached last year, underlining the failure of the easing granted by the authorities on their health measures.
December’s result was down 99.8% from December 2019, when 3.95 million arrivals were recorded.
Over the whole of 2020, foreign attendance fell 83% from 6.7 million admissions, including 6.69 million recorded in the first quarter before the kingdom closed its borders to foreign tourists at the end of March and prohibits commercial flights entering in early April.
Measures which devastated the hitherto flourishing tourism sector.
Thailand has been welcoming again for four months visitors holding a new special long-stay visa who must, however, undergo a quarantine of two weeks, at their expense.
The authorities have deployed incentives to stimulate domestic tourism, but these efforts, which would not have been able to compensate for the deadweight loss of the foreign manna which represents the bulk of tourism income, were thwarted by a return of the coronavirus epidemic – although the larger number of positive cases compared to the first episode last year conceals a much lower case fatality rate.
The expenditure of the 6.7 million foreign tourists coming in 2020 amounted to 332 billion baht (9.13 billion euros) against 1.910 billion baht (52.50 billion euros) spent by nearly 40 million visitors in 2019, or 11.3% of gross domestic product.
Official forecasts currently put 5 million foreign visitors in 2021, but Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith told Reuters last week that the projection was still uncertain.
Meanwhile, the president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (Atta), Vichit Prakobgosol, quoted by the Bangkok Post, deplored a few days ago that about 30% of the 10,000 receptive tourism companies in the kingdom had closed their doors permanently, while half have put their activity in dormancy for lack of customers.
The association of tourism professionals asked the government earlier this month to lift the mandatory quarantine for tourists vaccinated against Covid-19 from the third quarter. A call reiterated in recent days by several leaders of large groups such as William Heinecke, president of Minor International, the largest hotel and hotel group listed in Thailand. “There are a huge number of people who will not come to Thailand or who will not come to any country that has a quarantine, because it is taking too long,” he told the newspaper. Financial Times.
Thailand confirmed on Monday that it will start its own anti-Covid vaccination program next month.