Having lost 2020 to the coronavirus, the Tourism Authority of Thailand is already writing off 2021, making its plans for full recovery in 2022.
TAT Gov. Yuthasak Supasorn said Nov. 30 that next year’s tourism outlook is difficult to predict and, thus, the organization has launched Project Phoenix to have Thailand rise from the ashes of the pandemic to generate up to 2.5 trillion baht in tourism revenue in 2022, 83 percent of 2019’s income.
The fact that, two years from now, tourism still is expected to be 17 percentage points lower than 2019 shows the lasting impact the coronavirus pandemic will have on the world.
Yuthasak said the tourism market in 2022 will look very different from 2019, with tourists who previously came to Thailand having different travel priorities. That means Thailand must focus on tourists who spend more and stay longer than in the past.
In the interim, TAT will propose that the government extend the “We Travel Together” subsidized domestic-tourism program.
Originally conceived as a way for Thais to book 5 million hotel rooms by Oct. 15, the program finally might hit the 5-million mark by the end of the year. Yuthasak said TAT will propose adding funding for another 1-2 million hotel rooms.
That should get the country through the end of the pandemic, with vaccinated tourists being allowed to return to Thailand in the middle of next year without having to undergo quarantine. That should see the industry start to recover in the third quarter, he said, leading to a booming high season driven by European tourists.