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Thai tourism operators complain about sluggish trade during leadership vacuum

PHOTO: Flickr/Darko Pevec

The president of the Khao San Road Business Association says operators are concerned about a downturn in domestic tourism while the country waits for a new government. Sanga Ruangwattanakul says Thai tourists don’t want to risk spending money on trips, concerned that political uncertainty could spark disruptive protests.

Phuket’s west-coast beaches have been very quiet, despite the excellent low-season weather.

Phuket quiet Kata Beach

PHOTO: A very quiet Patong Beach last weekend

Meanwhile, back in Bangkok, Sanga says local businesses are hesitant about re-investing until the country’s new leadership is confirmed.

“There will still be a vacuum period until the government is formed.”

Businesses in Bangkok’s popular Khao San Road area rely heavily on domestic tourists during the low season for European tourists. In addition, Sanga points out that the short-haul market has yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels. He says the economy is currently stagnant and the current caretaker government can’t do much about it.

According to a Bangkok Post report, Sanga has called on the Tourism Authority of Thailand to develop more promotions with airlines, saying Khao San hotels need more guests, to boost occupancy rates currently stuck at 40 – 50%.

The president of the Thai Hotels Association agrees. Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi says the recent endorsement of all 500 MPs elected in the May 14 general election is just a preliminary step in forming a government.

She is calling for a seamless transition from the caretaker government to the new administration, in order to boost growth in the tourism sector, which still hasn’t recovered to 2019 levels.

She adds that hotel occupancy nationwide this month is 48%, compared to 65.2% in the same month in 2019. Marisa says that with an increase in flight frequencies planned for July and August, she’s hopeful this will improve.

Meanwhile, Adith Chairattananon from the Association of Thai Travel Agents says members are taking a cautious approach and not re-investing until they know who’s going to take the reins of power and what new policies might be implemented for the economy and the tourism sector, specifically.

He is also calling on either the caretaker government or the new administration to address the issue of Chinese tourist e-visas as a matter of priority. Adith claims the current waiting period of between 10 and 15 days before an application is approved is too long.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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