It comes as, over the weekend, it became clear that a new local insurance package must also be purchased by visa applicants in addition to international coverage against Covid 19. Right now, this excludes visitors from the United Kingdom, the United States and most countries in Europe dealing with a second wave of the virus. Even if tourism authority projections are met, Thailand still stands to lose over 99% of its foreign tourism income from this time last year.
Most Western and European tourists are still excluded from Thailand as a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed, over the weekend, that only visitors from Covid 19 free countries will be eligible to apply for the visa. The news comes as a top Thai tourism industry leader, Chairat Trairattanajaratporn, castigated the Thai government for failing to listen to his industry and warned that up to 1 million hotel and hospitality workers will have been laid off by the end of the year as disaster looms for the industry despite heroic efforts to keep it alive.
A leading Thai tourism industry leader has slammed the Thai government’s efforts to reopen the country to foreign tourism saying that representations from those within the industry were falling on deaf ears.
Mr Chairat’s comments came as observers rubbished efforts by the government culminating this week in the announcement of a new Special Tourist Visa as a drop in the ocean compared to what the country is losing every day from 2019 revenues.
Mr Chairat pointed out that Thailand is set to lose 99.5% of its visitors in the last quarter of the year, traditionally its high season and critical earnings period.
The industry boss said that over 99% of revenue will also be lost to the industry which in 2019 generated nearly ฿2 trillion and accounted for 20% of the Thai economy between direct expenditure and indirect economic activity generated by the sector.
Tourism boss warns that unemployment this year could double by the end of December under the current operating regime with 1 million jobs lost
The boss of the Tourism Council of Thailand said that, so far, only 500,000 of Thailand’s tourist workers have been laid off or let go as Thailand’s hotel and hospitality sector desperately tries to keep the industry open in the face of adversity but fears that at least another 500,000 will be laid off before the end of 2020.
Mr Chairat dismissed government efforts at domestic tourism to replace the lost income from foreign tourism and pointed out that many hotels that had reopened on such promises had again been forced to shut their doors after the hoopla fell flat.
New more stringent conditions after the Ministry of Interior finalised arrangements last week
The hard-hitting comments by the tourism boss come as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs this weekend pointed to even further restrictive measures linked with the Special Tourist Visa which is only projected by Thailand’s Tourism Authority to generate a minuscule 1,200 visitors a month and ฿1 billion in revenue, a figure itself questioned by industry analysts as it would represent a massive 1,600% increase in expenditure per tourist per visit.
Thailand is set to host its first tranche of foreign tourists from Guangzhou this week on October 8th with some reports that the visitors will be flying in by private jet to Phuket International Airport.
This weekend, Natapanu Nopakun of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made it clear that Thai embassies and consulates worldwide would be screening applicants for the new Special Tourist Visa and the first criteria to be applied would be that only visitors originating from safe Covid 19 countries will be entertained.
Conditions for the Special Tourist Visa were finalised by the Ministry of the Interior last week while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is fielding enquiries through Thailand’s foreign embassies and consulates worldwide.
US, UK and most of Europe barred
This effectively rules out many western countries, at this time, such as the United Kingdom, the United States and many parts of Europe which are suffering a second wave of the virus.
It appears to indicate that the new tourist arrivals will be from safe regions within China, other parts of Asia or regions in Australia and New Zealand.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said that the countries allowed to send tourists to Thailand are specified by the Ministry of Public Health.
New local health insurance policy now also required in addition to $100,000 cover against Covid 19
In addition, it has now been revealed that as well as the 14 days mandatory Alternative State Quarantine and testing 72 hours before a flight to Thailand in addition to $100,000 health insurance coverage against the virus, that a local Thai health insurance policy will also be required of the applicant for the visa.
This must be purchased from a Thai insurance firm and specify at least ฿400,000 inpatient coverage at a Thai hospital and ฿40,000 outpatient coverage.
This is in addition to a requirement, last week, revealed by Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha which specified that Special Tourist Visa holders must wear a wristband with a tracking app attached at all times in Thailand so that they can be traced.
Government finances are deteriorating as is the economic outlook for 2021 if mass-market tourism remains shuttered indefinitely
The severe limitations and lack of progress at reopening the foreign tourism sector are also coming at a time when the Thai government is proposing to borrow more on local financial markets with current plans unveiled last week projected to bring the debt to GDP ratio to over 57% or close to the 60% ceiling as specified by law.
It also means that Thailand faces entering into 2021 continuing to lose valuable foreign tourism earnings that directly contributed ฿5.28 billion a day in direct financial income to the Thai economy up to the end of March 2020 and further ฿3.5 billion in indirect economic earning or output on a daily basis.
The Thai economy is reported to be stabilising with some signs that the contraction in exports is slowing.
However, already as economic analysts debate the contraction level for 2020, there is now talk that a hoped-for recovery in 2021 cannot be taken for granted.
Last week, the Bank of Thailand reduced its projected growth rate for 2021 from 5% to 3.6%.