BOT Forecasts 8 Million Foreign Visitors in 2020, Down 80%

An empty tourist attraction in Nakhon Ratchasima on July 7, 2020.

BANGKOK (Xinhua) — Thailand’s central bank has forecast only an estimated 8 million foreign visitors in Thailand this year, down 80 percent from last year’s record number of 39.8 million, according to the Bank of Thailand (BoT) governor Veerathai Santiprabhob.

The country would take some years for foreign tourist numbers to return to near 40 million as a result of the impact of COVID-19 on Thai tourism, he said on Monday.

Because of Thailand’s large dependence on tourism, many tourism related businesses are experiencing the lack of cash flows.

As a result, bad loans will rise, and therefore the BoT must create new steps to prevent bad loans from surging,” he said.

The BoT had recently relaxed conditions for the Debt Clinic project to aid borrowers saddled with non-performing loans (NPLs) in response to expectations that retail distressed debt will continue increasing throughout the pandemic.

The Debt Clinic is a scheme that pools unsecured bad loans owed to multiple creditors, covering 19 non-bank companies.

The central bank extended the cut-off date from Jan. 1 to July 1 to let unsecured bad-debt customers apply for the program to restructure their NPLs while offering new loans to borrowers who can pay off a minimum of 50 percent of overdue loans.