DestinationsBut first, the Thai authorities urged to secure enough vaccines soon and offer assistance to the battered tourism trade.

Travel agents to government: Vaccines our only way out

With domestic tourism now stalled, industry leaders fear that more travel agents in Thailand would be put out of business. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Peera_Sathawirawong

Shaken by the second wave of Covid-19 that is now sweeping across the country, Thai travel agents are holding out hope that tourism demand will recover by the last quarter of 2020—on the condition that the government can bring the pandemic under control soon and millions of vaccine doses land in the country by April.

Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said it was too early to assess the situation. However, he admitted that the second Covid-19 wave has affected the sentiment of domestic tourism exceedingly. He expects domestic tourism demand would rise in the second half of this year.

With hopes of high-season tourism now dashed, the ongoing outbreak is likely to exact an even bigger toll on the Thai tourism sector.

Mingkwan Metmowlee, president of the ASEAN Tourism Association (ASEANTA), projected that more than 70% of travel agents in Thailand would be out of business because the government had not announced any assistance for tourism operators during the current Covid-19 outbreak.

She pointed out that without any help from the government, local travel agents would lose their businesses to foreign agents when tourism is restored.

Restoration of tourism confidence now relies on Covid-19 vaccine procurement by the government, said Mingkwan. If the country imports vaccines by April, the tourism mood is expected to turn around this October.

“In a crisis, most Thai people are ready to corporate with the state. We are even ready for a lockdown if it enables life to return to normalcy afterwards, so I hope the number of new case infections will decrease gradually,” said Mingkwan.

Echoing Mingkwan's views, Vichit Prakobgosol, president of Association of Thai Travel Agents, believes the procurement and vaccination of doses should restore international arrivals in the first quarter of 2022.

In the fourth quarter, Vichit proposed that the Thai government should reconsider the travel bubble idea with countries where widespread vaccination would have been rolled out. These include Singapore, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Arrivals from the UK, France and Germany would start to improve in the first quarter of 2022, he added.

As of 8 January 2021, Thailand reported 205 new cases of the novel coronavirus, raising the total to 9,841 since the start of the pandemic in January a year ago. Five provinces were declared maximum control zones: Chon Buri, Chanthaburi, Samut Sakhon, Rayong and Trat.

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