- The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is calling for urgent action from all Thai travel and tourism industry stakeholders from both the public and private sectors to address the COVID-19 impacts on the local tourism supply chain.
- Between December 2020 and March 2021, PATA, in partnership with a Swiss consultancy that works with companies to embed responsible business practices throughout their business and supply chains, and with the support of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs Switzerland, conducted research on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on informal workers in the Thai tourism supply chain.
- PATA CEO Dr. Mario Hardy stresses the importance of the regular worker in the Thai travel and tourism industry
“Years ago I was on a Thai Airways flight from Singapore to Bangkok and discussed with a flight attendant the difference between Singapore Airlines and Thai International Airways. I never forget the flight attended telling me with a big smile: “SQ may be a little better sometimes, but we have the better smile.”
WTN Chairman Juergen Steinmetz remembered his experience and applauded PATA CEO Dr. Mario Hardy to fight for this smile to stay alive. It’s what makes the Thai people and Thailand so amazing in the eyes of the kingdoms visitors.
PATA CEO Dr. Mario Hardy said: “The informal workers provide the local experiences that create memorable tourism. Yet, such professions are repeatedly ignored when discussing the tourism value chain, even though they make up a majority of tourism employment and provide entrepreneurial opportunities to women, youth, and the elderly. This vital sector lacks voice and is excluded from industry discussions,” he added.
“I normally meet a street food seller with a smile on her face. But now she looks sad, and I cannot see the happiness from that face anymore. COVID-19 has put her in a tough situation.”
The impacts of COVID-19 on tourism worldwide have been extensively deliberated over the past year. The question is not if tourism will survive, but what will it look like post-COVID-19. There remain many unanswered questions with most pundits focused on airlines, hospitality, travel agencies, and tour operators. These deliberations, therefore, miss the crucial element of tourism everywhere – the informal tourism workers.
Informal workers include street food sellers, souvenir sellers, drivers, freelance tour guides, activity providers, artists and artisans to name just a few. They provide local experiences that create memorable tourism. Yet, such professions are repeatedly ignored when discussing the tourism value chain, even though they make up a majority of tourism employment and provide entrepreneurial opportunities to women, youth and elderly. This vital sector lacks voice and is often excluded from industry discussions.