Tourist Arrivals to Plunge 80% This Year Due to COVID-19

An empty Chinatown on April 3, 2020, as Bangkok readies itself for the first night of curfew.

BANGKOK (Xinhua) — The Tourism Council of Thailand on Tuesday said it expects to see only an estimated 8 million foreign tourists this year, 80 percent down from last year, due to the impact from COVID-19 and air travel restrictions worldwide.

“However, we are confident that tourism in Thailand will begin to pick up in 2021,” said Chairat Triratanajaraspon, the council’s president.

He said that last year, Thailand had a record 39.8 million foreign tourists, whose spending accounted for about 11 percent of Thailand’s GDP.

Meanwhile, Santi Sawangcharoen, deputy executive director of East Asia for the Tourism Authority of Thailand, told the media earlier that he is banking on hopes that Chinese tourists will return to Thailand during Golden Week or the national holiday in October.

Santi said he believes Thailand will face tough competition from other countries also eager to lure Chinese tourists back.

Earlier on Tuesday Thailand lifted a ban on international flights allowing some groups of inbound travelers entry.

Thailand has lifted the night curfew and nearly all restrictions related to stemming COVID-19 pandemic; however, the state of emergency will remain until the end of July.