Over a month after Thailand’s November 1st opening to international tourists, analysts now say the process of revitalizing the nation’s tourism industry could take several years as amid tepid international demand and the emergence of the Omicron coronavirus variant.
Figures from the Department of Disease Control (DDC) indicate that the Kingdom saw just over 133,061 foreign travelers from November 1st to 30th – far below pre-pandemic levels of around 3 million monthly visitors.
Phang Nga province saw no spike in tourist numbers during the national reopening, though operators remain hopeful they will see better performance starting next year, with forward bookings already reaching 30%.
According to Pongsakorn Ketprapakorn, president of the Tourism Council of Phang Nga, the province’s 12,000 available rooms saw an occupancy rate of 20% this month, up from 10% in November, mostly driven by domestic tourists who accounted for 60-70% of the bookings.
He added that while most of the 25,000 employees registered under the Social Security system lost their jobs during the pandemic, 5,000 were rehired last month and employment in December is expected to total 15,000.
Charintip Tiyaphorn, president of the Tourism Council of Krabi, meanwhile said the occupancy rate in November stagnated at 20%, though sentiment has been improving ahead of the festive season, with December seeing more direct flights.
He added that travel agents are urging hotels in Krabi to start offering special deals and promotions to increase demand, while tourism operators await flights from Singapore and Malaysia that were originally scheduled for October 31st, but got postponed due to new outbreaks.
La-Iad Bungsrithong, president of the Thai Hotels Association’s northern chapter, meanwhile said Chiang Mai will have to wait for travelers connecting from Bangkok or Phuket, as there are currently no direct international flights to the province.
Amid sluggish foreign demand, operators remain dependent on domestic travelers, particularly those attending meetings and seminars.