Without question the Coronavirus has hit Thailand’s tourism hard; and the repercussions and impact are actually far greater than many of us would at first realise. To compound this it is also causing serious issues with other sectors in Thailand from automobile to property.
This outbreak will be hitting the global economy too, so Thailand is not alone by any means. But if there is one thing that history has shown us is that the Land of Smiles has always great recovery abilities from adversity.
I sat with a Pattaya hotelier earlier in the week and he was explaining how some hotels reliant on Chinese visitors have reduced staff hours with many being forced to take unpaid leave as the hotels. Quite simply, just have no guests. Normally busy attractions have also felt the pain too. But all the time the uncertainty continues it means no one can plan longer term. For starters, according to the hotelier, many Europeans will put off their annual trip to Asia later in the year whilst media still covers the story. Why would they take the risk, however small, when there are other travel options? So it is not only a fall in Chinese visitors but others too that may not arrive on these shores over the next few months. Or until the virus has been contained in China.
But he also stressed that even when the world and China have got on top of the virus that there will be a recovery period. Industry like car manufacturers – including in Thailand – are having parts delayed that come from China due to the shut down in place. It mean car productions grind to a halt – and that also impacts on the economy.
When everything gets back to normal Chinese factory workers will no doubt not be allowed holiday and be on over time to meet over due global orders – that just has to impact Chinese tour operations catering for this class of Chinese holidaymaker.
Property development in Thailand is also suffering. Vichai Viratkapan, acting director-general of the Real Estate Information Centre says that 50% of Chinese condo transfers are expected to disappear in the first 2 quarters of this year and the total transfer value by the Chinese will miss the mark of the usual 29 billion baht by about 25% (around 7 billion).
Caution has also led to many events in Thailand being cancelled, such as the LPGA Thailand in Pattaya (Ladies Pro Golf).
It’s pretty much business as usual for others in Thailand
What is interesting is why this issue continues to hit the world, Asia and Thailand, that for expats living here it is very much business as normal. In fact, the Corona virus appears no longer to even be spoken about within the local community. Certainly within busy areas like Bangkok on the BTS trains you will see more masks as normal – but increasingly, due to smog, masks are becoming normal anyway.