BANGKOK – The ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak will severely hit Thai tourism industry if it is not contained within three months, the Tourism Council of Thailand says.
Visitors from China are the biggest source of Thailand’s tourism revenue last year, increasing 4.4 percent to 10.99 million, according to government data. The virus outbreak has caused tour cancelations and suspensions for tour services causing an estimated loss of over THB10 billion.
Chairman of the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) Chairat Trairattancharatphon said the estimate was based on a dip of five million Chinese visitors.
If the outbreak persisted for over three months, its impact on Thailand’s tourism industry could be substantial, he said.
The TCT planned to hold discussions with tourism-related entities, both public and private, to assess the situation and brainstorm on measures to ease the negative impacts, he added.
Manop Saejia, head of a tour guide association of Chiang Mai, a popular destination of Chinese tourists, said he was concerned over the effectiveness of health quarantine system.
About 40 percent of Chinese tourists in Chiang Mai travelled in group tours while the rest was independent, he said.
These independent tourists could spread the deadly virus if strict quarantine measures were not in place, said Manop.
He called a similar public health measures carried out during the SARS outbreak in 2003 when all tourists went through health checks.
Tourist arrivals in Thailand hit a record 39.8 million in 2019, rising of 7 percent from 2018.
With the coronavirus crisis, the country is unlikely reaching the government target of 41.8 million tourists in 2020.