Domestic tourists in Thailand will not save Thai tourism industry currently under threat of collapse

Beaches in Thailand will remain largely empty as domestic tourism mainly occurs on specific national holidays and foreign tourists are still banned

If you were to read the latest article from the Bangkok Post about the Thai tourism industry, you would think everything is fine and a recovery is all but certain.

After all, a few million domestic tourists in Thailand heading to tourist spots for a four-day weekend will save the country’s tourism industry for the rest of the year, right?

The Bangkok Post not being known for their in-depth analysis or even their common sense, however, is usually best ignored.

Once you do that, you will quickly see the expected tourism recovery the Thai government wanted from domestic tourism has done little to halt the collapse of the Thai tourist industry overall.

In fact, all it has done is extend its life support a couple more weeks.

With the latest report on hotel occupancy in Thailand for the four-day weekend in Thailand showing only a 30% occupancy rate, and most Thais choosing to drive rather than to fly, thus not helping the airline industry overly much, the Thai tourism industry is still doomed to collapse this year.

Throngs of Chinese tourists, which used to be the norm in Thailand until the government of Prayut Chan-o-cha banned foreign tourists

Unless, of course, after warnings by the Bank of Thailand about a coming meltdown of the Thai tourism industry if the country’s borders are not reopened, the Thai government decides to finally open up the country to foreign tourists.

With the panic about one new case of locally transmitted COVID-19 in Bangkok late last week, however, that is not likely to happen.

Particularly when there are provinces like Phangnga going into flat-out panic about one case over 750 kilometres away and instituting some of the strictest ‘health measures’ in the world — again.

Domestic tourism is also not helping the country’s tourism industry revive as government figures show far fewer people taking advantage of the 40% subsidy for hotel fees than was expected.

Even fewer are taking advantage of the subsidy for plane tickets.

So worrying is this, the Thai government is now considering increasing the subsidy rate to woo more people to use them.

With national household debt in Thailand at 80% of GDP and climbing, hundreds of thousands of Thais already unemployed or on shorter hours due to government lockdowns and an absence of foreign tourists, and millions of Thais worrying about losing jobs and businesses as the country’s economic crisis worsens, however, it likely does not matter how large of a subsidy is offered as most Thais will not be interested.

In other words, once the current four-day weekend is over, and things go back to normal for the tourism industry in Thailand, expect the Bangkok Post to immediately go back to publishing stories warning of its imminent collapse.

A collapse that is projected to cause 8.4 million Thais becoming newly unemployed, and something far more likely than a magical recovery caused by domestic tourists in Thailand on a four-day weekend.