On November 26, Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha made it clear: The borders will remain closed to tourists until a vaccine to overcoming the COVID pandemic is in use.
For the people of Thailand, the Prime Minister expects such vaccine to be properly certified, approved and produced by the middle of 2021. Only then the country can open its doors to large numbers of visitors again, and begin the truly challenging task of rebuilding a hard hit economy.
He asked everyone to keep up their guard and to continue with their discipline in wearing masks, their hand hygiene, and social distancing work the way through this brutal crisis, preventing even greater economic suffering.
When COVID-19 hit Thailand in early 2020 it added to to pre-existing economic vulnerabilities. While the world economy will shrink by approx. 4% this year, Thailands economy is projected to fall by 7 to 8%. The key drivers of slowing growth were weaker demand for exports reflecting the impact of the 2019 US-China trade tensions, and a drought, impacting agricultural production.
With international tourists gone, Thailand pretty much lost an average of 10%+ for its GDP contribution. For Thai tourism providers, Covid-19 is a devastating blow. Approximately 20 million tourism related jobs are at high risk if they didn’t already evaporate. For workers and business owners in this sector, a return of tourism expenditure could not come soon enough. But the projected rebuilding of the travel and tourism industry – so essential for the wider economic recovery of the region – will take at least four years.