In 2019, Thailand had 40 million tourists, according to the tourism authority which estimates only 14 million will visit this year.
Financially stressed hotels in need of cash flow have started aggressively selling rooms and vouchers, while also looking to the local market to provide some relief.
Bill Barnett, managing director of consulting firm C9 Hotelworks, said, “Staycations and road trips are being touted, but in a country where tourism represents 12 to 14 percent of the GDP, these small bites are not going to bridge the road to recovery. Broader ASEAN bilateral agreements and getting airports open and airlines back in the air is what’s needed.”
Bangkok’s Chatuchak Weekend Market, one of the city’s most popular shopping destinations, reopened on May 9. But though Thais and expats have returned, it’s simply not enough foot traffic for vendors to make a sustainable living. Shop owners are trying to make ends meet by selling online.