Let’s not beat around the bush, Covid has destroyed the tourist industry and tourist centric areas in Thailand are struggling big time. Struggling is too generous a term, they are dead.
It is all a little surreal and eerie if I am quite honest. OK, life goes on and we need to adapt but for many it is now one step too far to recover from.
Thailand has always bounced back from adversity in the past, but this time it feels much different. The longer this global pandemic rumbles on, the increasingly concerned I get for a recovery before too much damage has been done. Furthermore, with no end in sight, we just don’t know how bad things will get.
So, and to return back to my opening question in the title – What possibly could be the silver lining to this current very dark cloud? To be honest, as I penned the title I was not sure there was a silver lining at all – but continued as if to accept the challenge the title presented me with.
The environment can heal
The first and perhaps most obvious, is the recovery to Thailand’s environment. Consider what Thailand was forced to do when it closed Maya beach due to the environmental damage being caused by mass tourism. Now other coast lines can take some well earned R&R. I have never – ever – seen Pattaya Beach promenade look so beautiful as it currently does.
Almost 40 million tourists visited Thailand in 2019 (source: thailandwebsites.com) – that is 57% of Thailand’s entire population. For those living in tourist centric areas, yes economically it has been a disaster but I bet their health has improved from decreased pollution.
Expats taken more seriously as a viable market to target
As an Expat I also think at long last our stock value has gone up. Businesses in Thailand now seriously look at our market segment. There is a disproportionate percentage of retirees among us who have not been hit by the pandemic in their pocket and can also travel mid-week – that must by music to many flagging hoteliers ears looking to fill even a small number of their rooms.
What I hope is that when any form of recovery happens, us Expats are not then forgotten and largely discarded again.
More consumer offers at expense of desperate businesses
There are winners and losers and for short term at least the consumer is winning at the businesses expense. Longer term however the consumer could end up losing out from less choice as many businesses are forced to close for good.
Speaking to many businesses, they are happy just to be able to keep their staff employed and cover their wages. Any suggestion of profit is a distant pipe dream. Thousands upon thousands of hard working people are either shutting up shop, laying off staff or just getting by. It’s such a crying shame.
My kids no longer get sick at school
I can’t help but notice that my kids are no longer getting ill at school. It felt like every other month one of them was ill and now that has all disappeared. I think the temperature checks upon arrival at the school gates is a good discipline. It means parents can no longer dump their kids off at school even if they are sick.
We are living in new, uncertain times. It has kept families apart, made many homeless and put thousands out of jobs and full of debt. For whatever small benefits that may come out of this, it will never make up for the devastation this pandemic has caused Thailand and the rest of the world.