Tourist arrivals and spending saw a year-on-year slide of about 70 percent in the first seven months, data showed on Monday, as a fourth month of border closures aimed at keeping out Covid-19 took a bite out of its struggling economy.
In the January-July period, foreign tourist numbers were 6.69 million, down 71 percent year-on-year, with spending down 70.4 percent from a year earlier to 332 billion baht.
Thailand, which had a record 39.8 million tourist arrivals last year, has recorded zero foreign visitors since April when it imposed a travel ban. In July 2019 alone, there were 3.33 million tourists who spent around 167 billion baht.
The tourism-reliant economy shrank at its deepest annual pace in the second quarter since the 1998 Asian crisis as the outbreak battered global travel and activity.
It has extended a state of emergency until the end of September, despite having among Asia’s lowest coronavirus case numbers and no domestic transmission for three months.
Thailand will from October allow foreign tourists to visit the resort island of Phuket for long stays that must include a quarantine period, which replaces plans for “travel bubbles” between certain countries amid a resurgence of the virus in parts of Asia.
On Monday, Tourism and Sports minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn told reporters that 2 million foreign visitors were expected between October and March, as other parts of the country adopt similar arrangements to Phuket.
Thailand expects to receive 8 million foreign tourists this year, down 80 percent from last year. Spending by foreign visitors accounted for 11.4 percent of GDP last year.
The National Economic and Social Development Council this month said there were about 2 million job losses as a result of the tourism slump.