Unlock tourism to be bang powering the Thai economy

The mitigated COVID-19 epidemic resulted in the global tourism sector continually recovering. Many countries gradually relax measures to return to normal. Ready to live with the changing COVID pass is only endemic Including Thailand, which returned to fully open the country in July 2022, resulting in more foreign tourists coming in. And just celebrated the number of tourists entering Thailand for 10 million people on December 10, which is expected that tourists will continue to increase in 2023, expected by the Bank of Thailand. that the number of foreign tourists next year will be 22 million people, or 55% of before COVID, which will be strong important to the economy in the next period Based on interviews with entrepreneurs involved in the tourism business including a sentiment survey Accommodation entrepreneurs that the Bank of Thailand has done together with the Thai Hotel Association found that the hotel occupancy rate The latest increase continued as of November 2022 at 59%, compared to the level of 60-70% in the period before COVID, mainly in accordance with the increasing number of foreign tourists. Especially short haul groups from India, the Middle East and ASEAN.

While some long hauls from Europe and America started to come in. For tourism in the country, although the number of Thai tourists began to decrease slightly after the We Travel Together project ended. and groups that have purchasing power to travel abroad more But the private sector still has hope for the Rao Travel Together Project Phase 5, which is expected to be exercised in early 2023. However, although the overall picture of tourism seems to be in a recovery direction But there are still many obstacles that need to be unlocked as follows: (1) The recovery has not been comprehensive. reflected by foreign tourists still concentrated in provinces major tourist destinations such as Bangkok, Chonburi and Phuket, and the 4-5 star hotel group, resulting in revenue recovery. faster than other groups While the income of small hotels is still slow to recover. This is due to facing high price competition and the group of middle- and lower-end tourists who are more cautious in their spending. Benefit from the increasing number of foreign tourists Some of those that had temporarily closed their business gradually came back. Open for service (2) tourist spending is still lower than before COVID

Because nowadays, most of the tourists who enter It is still a group of short hauls rather than long hauls, resulting in the average number of days of stay and overall expenses. The per capita number of foreign tourists is still lower than before the COVID-19 pandemic. causing most of the income of the tourism business to not back to the original level (3) the bottleneck of the limited number of aircraft

Because (1) aircraft that have stopped flying for a long time need to be maintained, but Thailand has only one repair center. together with the problem of lack of spare parts make use of time longer than usual maintenance; (2) financial problems of the long-suffering airline business affecting the ability to increase the number of aircraft; Because hire purchase requires a high deposit and (3) Thailand has not yet returned to be the center of aviation. Interconnectivity hub causes the number of flights to Thailand to be limited. (4) The cost of doing business is much higher. both from the price of food raw materials Utilities including wages A survey of hotel businesses found that 71% of respondents agreed that higher FT and minimum wages As a result, the cost increased by 5-15% of the original cost. the original did not come back especially small hotels Because in the past, workers tend to choose to work in large hotel chains that receive higher service charges and skill mismatch of workers is still a factor. additional pressure to increase costs Because businesses have to raise wages to attract workers.

Most businesses expect This labor shortage problem will gradually be resolved. If you unlock such obstacles faster Thailand’s tourism sector will resume full operation as the number of foreign tourists begins to recover clearly, such as organizing various events to attract more tourists and flights from abroad to Thailand. will help unlock part of the bottleneck Supporting tourism in secondary provinces will help the recovery to be more thorough. Measures to help with costs Extending the grace period for principal and interest payments Providing easy access to funding sources and providing service staff training will reduce the costs of the tourism sector. important that should not be overlooked The government should improve scenery, safety, and tourism image, along with attracting quality tourists, both Thai and foreign, not just zero-dollar tours like in the past, while the private sector should speed up adapting to keep pace with changing tourist behavior. New global context (New normal), both digital trends and ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) to seize opportunities and be able to compete in the global market. These things will make Thailand’s tourism sector come back and accelerate the engine to move forward with full force. It is an important engine of the Thai economy that can place hope. At a time when other engines were highly unstable. amid inflation and the global economic slowdown. This article is a personal opinion. which is not necessarily consistent with the opinions of the affiliated agencies

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