Reopening to local tourism

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As many countries are still struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic and international travel restrictions to curb the spread, Thailand is restarting its crucial tourism sector to help counter a recession, starting with domestic tourists.

According to the World Travel & Tourism Council report, the tourism sector accounted for 19.7% of Thailand’s GDP in 2019. From that, 5.2% of GDP is generated from domestic tourism. The sector is also an important source of employment, contributing 21.4% of total employment in 2019.

However, the coronavirus outbreak in the first half of the year and subsequent preventive measures, including banning incoming commercial passenger flights temporarily, caused a plunge in air traffic. Aircraft movements and passenger traffic through the country’s airports between January and May decreased by 55% and 66%, respectively.

Airports of Thailand Plc expects it will be October 2022 before flight and passenger numbers recover to the levels seen in 2019.

The country has entered the fifth phase of its reopening since the lockdown was imposed in March. Despite no confirmed local transmissions of Covid-19 since May 25, authorities continue to ban inbound flights for general tourists, as there are second-wave spikes in many countries.

As part of the economic recovery effort, the cabinet has approved three tourism campaigns aimed to kick-start the recovery of the domestic sector from July to October.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand earlier projected 12 million outbound travellers in 2020 before the coronavirus outbreak and is planning to convert 6 million of them into domestic tourists.

Funding for the packages will come from the 400-billion-baht economic recovery spending plan approved in April, and is worth 22.4 billion baht to boost domestic tourism by subsidising hotels and air tickets for 4 million residents, as well as free trips for 1.2 million medical personnel.

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