Bangkok to lose 14.5 million tourists by 2020 end as world’s worst affected city — but are those numbers correct?

Bangkok’s Erawan Shrine, busy with tourists before the country’s government shut down borders and banned international tourists

Anyone who reads or watches the news about Thailand knows things are catastrophic when it comes to the south east Asian country’s economy, and its outlook for 2021.

With Thailand currently the worst performing economy in Asia, with borders closed to international tourists since March, and exports also declining a record amount, millions of Thais are now unemployed and many of those are struggling to survive.

The latter is particularly true in areas of Thailand that depend on tourism.

With news out today Bangkok will be the world’s worst hit city in tourist losses, as it is projected to lose more than 14.5 million tourists by the end of 2020, things look even more catastrophic.

The report from Oxford Economics, a UK-based global forecasting company, predicts Bangkok with have the highest loss of tourists out of every major world city.

That prediction cites a loss of at least 14.5 million incoming tourists by the end of 2020.

Is projected loss of 14.5 million tourists in Bangkok in 2020 even accurate?

In actual fact, that prediction is likely to be inaccurate and, once the panic about COVID-19 finally ends and the true impact can be assessed, those figures could be much worse.

At the beginning of the year, Thailand was expecting to receive at least 40 million tourists by the end of 2020.

If the year had been remotely normal, that is.

At least two thirds of those tourists would also have spent at least one or two days in Bangkok before heading off to other Thai destinations.

That means, with tourist arrivals in Thailand in 2020 at only 6.69 million before the country’s borders were shut down, Thailand is currently seeing a shortfall of around 33.4 million by year end.

Bangkok’s portion of that 33.4 million is 26.5 million people. Or the loss of an additional 12 million tourists above what Oxford Economics predicts.

A far cry from the stated loss of 14.5 million tourists and particularly so when, if you believe the Thai government, Thailand will not be opening up to international tourists again until at least some time in 2021.

Bank of Thailand says Thai tourism industry will meltdown if foreign tourists not allowed to return

Oxford Economics also predicts the number of international tourists arriving in Bangkok will not return to normal numbers until at least 2024.

If that is true, that does not bode well for the Thai tourism industry during the next four to five years, or for any business connected to it. A tourism industry that has already seen a 70% drop in income during the first eight months of this year alone.

With current Thai government plans to open Thailand to international tourists including a mandated 14-day quarantine at expensive hotels paid for by the tourist, and for mandatory COVID health insurance also being offered at extremely high rates, it is unlikely most tourists will return to the Kingdom any time soon.

Even when the country’s borders open back up. A situation that, if the Thai government does not want to see complete economic collapse, will need to occur sooner rather than later.