Domestic tourism to recover next year, international tourism on the way

Domestic tourism in Thailand is expected to recover significantly in 2022, if there are no more major Covid-19 outbreaks, a research house said Monday.

However, the level of tourism will still not match the pre-Covid levels in the short to near term.

Prior to the pandemic in 2019, the country recorded about 173 million domestic trips, generating over 1.09 trillion baht of tourism spending. 

For 2020, domestic travel saw 91 million trips. The amount of trips in 2021 is estimated at only 67 million trips due to the prolonged effects of the pandemic, according to Kasikorn Research Center.

Kasikorn predicts two scenarios for Thailand’s domestic tourism in 2022. The first scenario would see 155 million trips in 2022 if the pandemic situation constantly improves throughout the year.

“The pandemic and economic downturn will still weigh on some groups of people in the first two or three months of 2022,” Kasikorn said, explaining why domestic travel will likely stay below pre-Covid levels.

The second scenario is that Thailand will still face several outbreaks in certain areas, but officials will likely not impose tight travel restrictions like before.

In this case, the number of domestic trips would drop to some 109 million trips for 2022.

However, the potential effects of rising fuel prices, which might cause higher transportation costs, are not included in this study.

International Tourism 

Following the country’s reopening, many research groups have revised up the economic growth projection for the year to grow slightly over 1 per cent from the 6.3-per-cent contraction in 2020. 

Kasikorn expects the total number of arrivals from overseas for 2021 at 180,000, up from 150,000 estimated earlier, while the central bank predicts 200,000 arrivals.

Nonetheless, signs of recovery in the tourism industry would be evident from the beginning of next year, Kasikorn noted.

Since the reopening date on November 1, the government reported around 20,000 visitors entering Thailand, including all arrivals from Test & Go, Sandbox, and the quarantine method.

The Test & Go scheme, in which visitors from countries on the exempted list no longer require mandatory quarantine, saw around 12,000 arrivals in the first week of reopening. 

Of the 12,000 visitors, the United States accounted for the vast majority, with Germany and the United Kingdom coming in second and third.

“The reopening … reflects a concerted effort among the relevant sectors in kick starting Thai tourism following a prolonged slump,” said Kasikorn.

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