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How much has Travel in Amazing Thailand Changed now?

Nai Yang beac
Glorious views from Sirinat National Park at Nai Yang beach in Southern Thailand photo: AJWood

Has travel and tourism in Amazing Thailand changed?

I found myself contemplating the answer as I sat drinking my pint in the Londoner pub in Bangkok with a mate.
I’m a Yorkshire lad and having a pint in the pub is something we do but this one was special.

With the pandemic, it had been 19 months since my last pint in a Bangkok pub and as I sat there it all seemed so normal, so real as though nothing had passed. As though nothing was different. 

But it most definitely was different, the arrival of Covid-19 was an event of such magnitude that no one was spared. As I sat sipping my pint my thoughts turned to the future. What lay in store for the industry I had been involved in for more than 4 decades. In 2019 in a world unaffected by the coronavirus, Thailand welcomed 39.9 million tourists from across the globe. This year the industry forecasts it will be difficult to reach 6 million for 2021. A drop of 85%. 

Tourism is a major economic contributor to the Kingdom. Estimates of tourism revenue directly contributing to the GDP, according to Wikipedia, range from one trillion baht (2013) to 2.53 trillion baht (2016), the equivalent of 9% to 17.7% of GDP. And according to the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) in 2019, the tourism sector was projected to grow and in the next ten years would account for 30% of GDP by 2030, up from 20% in 2019.

These forecasts however have been adversely affected by the pandemic, NESDC confirms the actual figures for Thailand’s GDP contracted 6.1% in 2020 due to Covid-19.


Lease and hire purchase contracts on 16 aircraft were scrapped and 42 fuel-inefficient aircraft are up for sale, 38 operational planes remain, of four rather than nine types. Another 20 A320s continue to operate under the subsidiary low-cost airline, Thai Smile, giving the group 58 aircraft photo: A brand new A350 back in 2016 /AJWood

Last month Thai Airways announced they will sell off 42 planes and reduce its workforce by almost one-third as it continues restructuring the business. Piyasvasti Amranand, head of the restructuring efforts, said planes being sold are older less efficient models and it will return 16 jets to lessors.

That will leave Thai Airways with a fleet of 58 planes. The workforce will be cut from 21,300 to 14,500 by December 2022. The airline is also in talks with the government for an additional 25 billion baht loan.

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About the author

Andrew J. Wood - eTN Thailand

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  • Andrew
    An interesting piece. The reality is this is a warning for everywhere. Despite the reduction in revenues to 20% of it’s previous level the sector can adapt – albeit radically, with big government support and with many elements disappearing.
    This is not just a Thailand case It is universal. And Climate Crisis will be COVID on steroids.
    My answer based on the biblical story of Joseph, is the Travel & Tourism industry should launch national Emergency Funds, backed by digital “Strong Bonds” and matched in equal amounts annually by National Government s. We should link them to #SUNxMalta Code Red Green and Clean Strategy and call on all stakeholders – including especially travellers to invest.
    This would not be handouts…it would be a prudent application of the Precautionary Principle.
    Enjoy the festive season.

  • Thanks for the information
    Much Appreciated
    I was spending 2 separate months a year in Jomtien leading to a possible permanent move
    Not looking good now though

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