No beachfront fire sale for Thai tourism assets

BANGKOK – With more than half of Thailand’s 60,000-plus hotels and guest houses still shuttered since the government closed the national borders in April and with a waiver on interest payments hotels and resorts owe to banks set to end in October, the Thai hotel scene seems primed for a Covid-19 fire sale.

Adding to hoteliers’ woes is the murky future of Thailand’s tourism industry, with the enduring lack of a Covid vaccine and the Thai government’s reluctance to reopen the country to mass tourism given the resurgence of the pandemic in other countries. Selective long-stay tourists who agree to spend 14 days in quarantine upon landing may be allowed starting in October.

Thailand’s economy is unusually dependent on tourism, accounting for an estimated 18% of its annual gross domestic product (GDP), with 12% of that recently contributed by foreign tourists. Tourism revenues hit an estimated 1.9 trillion baht (US$62 billion) in 2019.  

The sector had been one of the few success stories in the tottering kingdom’s past decade of generally slowing economic growth and as such could easily rebound in the next two to three years given the right circumstances.     

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