Thailand’s Hotel Association says the government must drop the PCR test requirement for foreign visitors if there is any hope of saving the country’s tourism industry. THA President Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi said demand for the revamped Test & Go program is weaker now than when it launched in November, due to the upcoming end of high season. However, she says the new requirement for a second PCR test on day 5 is also a factor.

“We need to build more momentum to lift the industry off its historic low. If the testing requirement for the Test & Go program cannot be relaxed, tourism will surely face another slump as operators have already breathed their last.

The HAT boss was speaking to attendees at a Bangkok Post conference when she called for PCR testing on arrival to be scrapped. Marisa stressed that Thailand must remain competitive as other countries such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Australia all open up with fewer entry restrictions. In Europe, several countries have dropped the need for PCR tests prior to entry and the Maldives, which also dropped the requirement for PCR tests, enjoyed tourist numbers in 2021 that exceeded those in 2019.

The Bangkok Post reports that Marisa went on to say that the additional requirements mean many hotels have had to hire additional staff. They need 45% occupancy just to break even, compared to 30%-40% occupancy pre-pandemic. However, if the government relaxed some of the entry requirements for foreign visitors, in addition to accepting a number of travel bubbles, she says hotels could achieve 50% occupancy rates.

Amonthep Chawla, Chief Economist of CIMB Thai Bank, also spoke at the conference. He believes Thailand’s tourism sector will lag the overall economy when it comes to post-Covid recovery.

“Although we estimate that the Thai economy will reach the same level as before the pandemic in the first quarter of next year, the recovery of tourism in the country will take longer. Hotels targeting high-end customers will recover first, while those below 4 stars and travel agencies will take longer to rebound.

THE SOURCE: Bangkok Post