Thailand eyes tourism-led economic recovery

Monitor Desk Report Date: 18 November, 2021 | 299 Views

Thailand's economy shrank in the third quarter of the calendar year 2021, according to the government's official data. However, the hoped-for economic recovery has started picking up after the kingdom's reopening to foreign tourists in early November.

The country last year suffered its worst performance since the Asian financial crisis of 1997, with a 6.1 per cent economic contraction.

Gross domestic product shrank 0.3 per cent year-on-year in the third quarter, the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) said, blaming it on Covid restrictions.

According to NESDC data, the food service and accommodation sector shrank 18.6 per cent July-September because of "a decrease in domestic tourism and household spending".

In Bangkok -- a key hotspot during the Delta wave -- restrictions only started to ease in recent weeks, with the government allowing certain restaurants to reopen and serve alcohol.

The relaxation of Covid restrictions -- along with a gradual return of vaccinated foreign tourists since November 1 -- has officials hopeful for growth of 1.2 per cent this year.

The country also expects five million tourists to return next year, bringing revenues of up to 440 billion baht ($13.4 billion), said the NESDC.

Pandemic travel restrictions sent Thailand's visitor numbers plummeting from 40 million in 2019 to just 73,000 in the first eight months of 2021.

Thailand has so far registered more than two million cases of coronavirus and more than 20,000 deaths.

The bulk of the infections came after the emergence of the Delta variant.

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