It seems an entirety ago when we first heard about a coronavirus outbreak in China. I think most of us looked on in horror but felt we would somehow be protected from this outbreak. How wrong that turned out to be.

Within practically no time we went from curious, doubting the seriousness to the situation to fearful. Some, in my opinion, naively rushed to point out the fact more people were dying from road traffic accidents each day in Thailand and that we were being quarantined unfairly. I think we all have ways of dealing with situations and downplaying the significance of such a virus, a lot must be put down to underestimating just how dangerous a virus like this can be.

Regardless, what cannot be doubted is the devastation this pandemic has had on Thailand. Heartbreaking images of Thai people forced to queue in long, long lines – anything but practicing social distancing – just so they can feed themselves and families. It’s downright tragic. If people cannot afford the basics of food and water, you will have to wonder how this will impact on local crime rates. Desperate people will need to do desperate things.

Thais queuing for food parcels

Business being forced to close, people losing their jobs. Whilst business that remain open are still being unprecedentedly hit.

But here is where I am worried, to what extent can we really start loosening the restrictions when there is no vaccine? At best we can hope to see provinces open for locals, but how can tourist centric locations like Samui, Phuket and Pattaya look to make any form of recovery with no tourists?

At this point, I should just clarify, this is all just my opinion based on what I am being led to believe. The outcome in Thailand over the course of this year could very well be different – but I would need convincing otherwise.

Who will want to get on a plane and do a long haul flight any time soon, I mean what psychological damage has been done to people after their enforced global lock downs? At what point will people be confident to travel again from country to country? Further more, what is the financial damage that has been done that will mean even if people wanted to travel, they just cannot afford too? We have no idea how the aviation industry is even going to emerge, I note Virgin Australia has just gone into voluntary administration as an example.

It is this mass of uncertainties and questions – and all whilst no vaccine is due for at least 12-months – that suggests the road ahead looks to be rocky. Very rocky.

What stumps me is how can we expect any recovery when there is no cure? If we start to get out and about and socialise with others the risk is the whole virus explodes up again. You don’t have to be an expert to recognise this.

Does human instinct force us to become deluded?

None of us have ever experienced this so I am guessing we try and rationalise the situation based only on what we know and come up with our own answers. I think most of us think we have done the self-isolation for a month now, surely that is enough and now we can all go back to normal. But as I sit and rationalise this based on everything I am reading, how can that really be the case?

I read an interesting article where a psychologist explained why we are all probably delusional and it makes a lot of sense when looking at how people are interpreting Covid-19 and the future landscape for our lives over the next 12-months. You can read the article . We like to believe what makes us feel safer and more secure.

Until we get a vaccine, I fear progress will be very slow.

Accelerating Trends forcing a new Expat and Tourist dawn?

For some time certain Western business has been struggling with a declining Western tourist and shrinking retiree expat market. What this pandemic may well do is sweep away in one fell swoop those tittering on the brink for the last couple of years. It was always going to happen, it’s now just happened quicker than expected.

We can expect to see more businesses close for good

Another market that has been shifting its dynamics over the years has been the bar girl, with bars hit firstly by mobile phones replacing the need for a bar for customers to connect with bar girls. Now, with these bars closed it could further push the trends towards bar girls meeting guys via different platforms. As these behaviours become embedded, it will be near impossible to ever go back to how it once was. No, scratch that, it will be impossible. The role of the bar is become obsolete to these girls. Girly bars will need to reinvent their purpose in tourist locations like Pattaya, or risk closure.

I am curious to see how these changes impact on pricing. Will venues and restaurants trim their margins even more to get more customers or will we just see less venues and restaurants, and thus meaning they can protect their margins due to fewer competitors. Good business always survives, I just have to think of the Hops on Pattaya Beach Road as case in point. But then again, Covid-19 has taught us we should now expect the unexpected and never count our chickens.

Will we see less long haul flights and Thailand again dependent upon the more local Asian, Indian and Chinese market? We just don’t know how this pandemic will have scarred peoples appetite to travel in the short term.

If there was one benefit to come out of this though, it has been in allowing the world to repair itself from the years and years of human abuse.

Personally, the Covid-19 pandemic has taught, and reminded me by the same token, not to take normal life for granted. It has also shown we that we can never be surprised by big things happening to impact not just Thailand but the rest of the world.

I am quite sure now that I will see something of such gravitas again in my lifetime, only this time it won’t quite be as shocking. The world will have learned.

 

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