Is Thailand’s economy collapsing? Industry leaders say yes if foreign tourists don’t return soon

Most of Thailand’s beaches have been empty of foreign tourists for a year

Anyone with even a basic understanding of economics knows Thailand’s economy is in deep trouble as the tourism industry is failing fast, exports have fallen and investors are staying away.

In a news story earlier in the week, it was reported Thailand’s GDP is now at its worst level since the Asian financial crisis in 1977.

Today, Thai industry leaders are now ringing the alarm saying Thailand’s economy is close to collapse.

An economic catastrophe that is occurring due to the impending collapse of the entire Thai tourist industry, due to the loss of the 40 million foreign tourists expected to arrive in the country last year, and the tens of millions more that will now not arrive this year.

Leaders warn, if something is not done to enable foreign tourists to return soon, Thailand’s economy will collapse and take many other industries with it.


Even Chinese tourists cannot currently come to Thailand in any significant numbers

Window closing for foreign arrivals to Thailand in 2021?

With Thailand being well behind the curve when it comes to vaccinations, the window for allowing foreign tourists to return this year is also rapidly closing as Thais panic about foreign arrivals bringing in Covid-19.

When that window closes, the rest of the Thai tourism industry will collapse with it.

This will cause horrendous consequences for millions of working class Thais. Many of whom could end up without the ability to afford a roof over their head or even basic daily food.

With Thailand’s lack of a social services net and pitiful government handouts, there will be little help for most of them.

This week, one Thai MP drew everyone’s attention to the ฿250 billion Thailand’s economy is losing every month. A loss that is not due to the virus, but due to the closure of the country’s borders to foreign arrivals.

Meanwhile, Thai officials continue to promote the few thousand foreign visitors arriving every month as those that will “help Thailand’s economy survive”.

Last month, however, only 6,556 foreign visitors arrived compared to the 3.9 million during the same month in 2019.

While a two-week quarantine period remains mandatory, and masks are required in all public places, few foreign visitors will ever return to Thailand under those conditions.


Thai government erroneously prioritizing health of citizenry rather than health of economy

As an article in the Thai Examiner explains about the seriousness of the economic situation:

Foreign tourism accounts, both directly and indirectly, for 20% of GDP but crucially, it pumps money directly into the economy and the hands of tens of millions of less well off Thais. 

It is a crucial economic engine that cannot be replaced by government handouts and even new industries.

Meanwhile, the Thai government, along with like-minded governments around the world, are prioritizing the health of their citizens against the stability of their economy and, ultimately, causing Thailand’s economy to collapse.

“Saving them” from a virus with a less than .5% mortality rate. (In other words, approximately 99.5% of people who even contract the Covid-19 virus will survive it. The majority will have no symptoms at all).


Thai hotel industry and airline industry close to collapse

As far as the Thai hotel and airline industries are concerned, this decision could not be a worse one.

As Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, President of the Thai Hotels Association, says the Thai hotel industry is close to collapse.

She states 50% of hotels in Thailand have already closed their doors permanently. The rest are hanging on by cutting costs wherever they can, and cutting their workers’ salaries as well.

Some hotel workers are reporting being paid less than one quarter of their usual salaries. Ridiculously low incomes they cannot live on but, if they quit their jobs, they will then be earning nothing at all.

Meanwhile, a couple more months of continuing border closures, and many of those hotels will be gone as well.

Khun Marisa also warned things are much more serious now than they were last year, as most hotels have spent all their reserve cash. Many are unable to get loans to enable them to keep their heads above water for much longer.

She says, if the hotel industry does not get help from the government soon, the entire industry will fail.

Thailand’s air industry is also in freefall as, not only has it lost tens of millions of international visitors in the last year, Thai domestic travel is rapidly failing as well.

International flights are currently down 99.1%, and 65% of subsidized domestic plane tickets are not being used. After all, why would they be when most people are refusing to spend money on vacations or trips, as they are worried about losing their own jobs as well.

Meanwhile, most of those who are taking domestic trips are doing so by car.

That means airlines like Thai Airways, which is already suffering under massive debt, are in real danger of closing permanently the longer the dire economic outlook continues.

If that happens, it could ultimately leave Thailand with few if any airlines left.


It is the country’s poor that will suffer the most under a Thailand economic collapse

Is Thailand’s economy collapsing?

According to Thai industry leaders, the Thai economy is currently hanging on by a thread. A thread that will snap completely in coming weeks or months if foreign tourists are not allowed to return soon.

And return in large enough numbers to make an economic difference.

Meanwhile, critics say the Thai government seems to be stuck in place, continuing to do nothing of any consequence except promote vaccinations in large numbers as the economy heads towards collapse.

Vaccinations the country still does not have access to, and with no firm date as to when it will.