Industry leaders now convinced that it will be 2022 before any prospect of recovery emerges and are asking the government to step up with support to help the tourism industry survive this year with a range of measures. Thanet Suphasahasrangsi, the Chairman of the Tourism Council of Chonburi, has stated that his members no longer fear a lockdown, something that is now already off the table because of an improvement in the outlook this week, albeit with nationwide travel restrictions and a cautious public mood. He said that the tourism economy had already collapsed with 70 to 80% of operators effectively out of business.
Tourism industry leaders in Pattaya have described the once-thriving resort city as ‘deserted’ and have written to the Governor of Chonburi asking him to officially order the closure of hotels in the resort so that they can avail of government staff payment supports at this time. Industry leaders have expressed both fear and anger at the effects of the second wave of the virus which they claim has killed off any chances of survival while pointing out that it came about as the result of corrupt officials.
Pattaya’s tourism industry is on its last legs and industry leaders now fear that time may not be on their side in the struggle to survive the pandemic after the second wave hit the resort city and province of Chonburi hard during the last month, killing off an already fragile effort to survive.
The latest move is a letter to the Governor of Chonburi, Pakkhathorn Thianchai, calling on him to issue an order officially closing the hotels in the city. In this way, hotel operators expect to be able to claim support from the government to partially pay the salaries of employees and staff at the establishments at a rate of 50% up to a maximum of ฿15,000 per month.
Ghost town with 70 to 80% of businesses shut says Tourism Council boss as industry asks for help
Tourism industry leaders in the resort city are worried and disillusioned about the future. They are openly admitting that Pattaya has now become a ghost town with an estimated 70 to 80% of commercial concerns shut down because of the lack of foreign tourism.
In addition to an order closing hotels, for now, the industry bodies are calling on the government to take urgent steps to help them survive until mass-market foreign tourism again restarts. They now fear this may not happen until 2022.
Calling for a waiver of taxes and reductions in social security contributions and utility bills
Among the measures called for is an extension of the social security fund to pay workers compensation for a further 200 days.
They also want to see reductions on employer’s social security contributions to 1%, reductions in water and electricity charges, a waiver on the payment of local taxes and charges on commercial tourism concerns as well as an extension of debt moratoriums for at least 6 months or until the situation improves.
Anger that second wave was caused by corrupt officials while ‘good boys’ in the commercial sector have fully cooperated with authorities
Many are also angry that the second wave which ravaged the industry, as it moved forward in survival mode before Christmas, came as a result of corruption by state officials.
This varied from corruption allowing human trafficking on the border to the importation of migrant labour by greedy employers assisted by officials who turned a blind eye and most seriously for Chonburi in recent weeks, the cluster of infection that developed from illegal gambling dens that flourished in the province due to negligence or corruption by senior police officers.
Thanet Suphasahasrangsi is the acting Chairman of the Tourism Industry Council of Chonburi province. He says that business leaders in Chonburi have been ‘good boys’ and cooperated fully with the government since the pandemic struck last year.
He warned that the future which was now facing operators in 2021 may push many of these to the limits of what they can bear. He said that business and commercial operators were now left with their backs against the wall.
Praise for government’s response last year
Mr Thanet praised the government’s response to the emergency last year including financial supports to those made unemployed, utility bill cuts, tax payment concessions and efforts to revitalise the domestics tourism market but fears that, this year, such supports do not appear to be forthcoming.
Mr Thanet is calling for the government to respond to areas such as Pattaya and Chonburi province as zones of infection devastated by the second wave of the virus and ensure that commercial operators have the wherewithal to survive.
He pointed to the value of tourism in Chonburi as a contributor to the overall national economy.
Pattaya is a ‘deserted’ city without tourists
Mr Thanet described Pattaya right now as a ‘deserted city’ where tourists dare not travel. He said the burden of the pandemic in Pattaya now rests with entrepreneurs and the tens of thousands of livelihoods which were under threat.
‘Although the state tries to avoid the lockdown as it may affect the economy, indeed, the current economy has already collapsed. And cannot go on anyway with zero number of tourists. But the state has no measures in place to take care of it or to remedy it, instead throwing the burden on entrepreneurs alone. At this time, the overall tourism business sector has to close more than 70 to 80% of its business. It will have to impact tens of thousands of lives and unemployment,’ he declared.