Thailand could see a million more tourism industry workers lose their jobs following the latest wave of coronavirus infections, according to a private tourism group.
The Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) also said vaccines and relief measures are urgently needed to support the struggling tourism sector.
The TCT has also lobbied the government to adopt several measures including a 50% co-pay scheme to retain workers, utility bill cuts, soft loans, and a two-year debt moratorium.
TCT president, Chamnan Srisawat said the proposed co-pay scheme could help more than 800,000 people keep their jobs.
“We don’t want to leave these people. When Covid-19 is over, tourists will definitely return, so please help us survive for a while, maybe for three months,” Mr Chamnan said.
More than one million people had already lost their jobs and the number could double to two million in the first quarter due to the new spread, he said.
The latest outbreak has seen accumulated cases tripled in the past six weeks, reaching 63 of the country’s 77 provinces.
President of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) Vichit Prakobgosol said the tourism should recover in the second half of 2021 and foreign visitor numbers could reach 10 million this year if the government removes a two-week quarantine for those tourists inoculated against Covid-19.
“If tourists can return with no quarantine, we will definitely see 10 million this year. If not, even if we let them in free of charge, nobody will come,” he said.
The group will wait two months to gauge vaccinations globally before asking the government to adjust the quarantine requirement, Mr Vichit said.
The state planning agency predicts 5 million foreign arrivals this year after the number slumped 83% to 6.7 million in 2020 due to the impact of the global pandemic and the country’s ban on foreign tourists and international commercial flights.
Top: Traditional Thai dance. Photo: Docnic (CC BY 2.0)