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Coronavirus: Tourism in Thailand hit by Covid-19

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Coronavirus: Tourism in Thailand hit by Covid-19

Inspire is delighted to have teamed up with Expat Life magazine to bring you more great content to do with Thailand

Over the past 25 years, Thailand has experienced a spectacular economic crash (1997), a tsunami (2004), coups (2006, 2014), the occupation of its main international airport by protesters (2008) and serious political violence (2010).

Yet the statistics speak for themselves. In 1960 around 80,000 foreign tourists came here.

Last year it reached 39 million, earning more than $60bn (£46bn) for Thailand, and indirectly contributing around one fifth of the country’s national income.

The country’s tourism sector was considered so robust that the country got the nickname “Teflon Thailand”. Yet of those 39 million tourists last year, more than 10 million were Chinese.

So when the Chinese government quarantined the city of Wuhan on 23 January, and stopped all overseas tours, the impact was felt immediately in Thailand. Shopping malls and temples in Bangkok were suddenly much quieter and less crowded.

As more flights from China were cancelled, the airports emptied. You could whisk yourself through passport control in no time.

For small-scale entrepreneurs, the collapse of Chinese tourism has been disastrous.

Many of them, such as flower sellers, traditional dancers, and the drivers of the famous “red cars” minibuses in Chiang Mai, are reporting their income dropping by half over the past month. The informal association representing tour guides in Thailand thinks 25,000 people are now out of work.

One of the first successes of Thailand’s 60-year-long tourist boom was the island of Phuket, nicknamed the “Pearl of the Andaman” for its soft white-sand beaches and sparkling warm seas.

The first foreign visitors in the 1980s and 1990s were mainly European and Australian, but the number of Chinese visitors last year shot up to about two million out of the 15 million foreigners.

The mangrove-lined inlets on the east side of the island, a contrast to the beaches facing the west, are where the boats leave from to take tourists out to the islands offshore. Like many of Phuket’s residents, Nattakit Lorwitworrawat moved here from his home town elsewhere in Thailand to start a business.

His company now owns 30 speed boats, each able to carry 30 people. He has had to take 20 out of the water, and the remaining 10 are not getting much use. The inlet, normally constantly noisy from the sound of outboard motors, is now silent apart from the birds and the lapping water.

Read more at https://expatlifeinthailand.com/news-and-event/coronavirus-tourism-in-thailand-hit-by-covid-19/

Source: Expat Life Thailand

Inspire is delighted to have teamed up with Expat Life magazine to bring you more great content to do with Thailand

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