Tourism could generate 1.5 trillion baht in revenue next year in the best-case scenario if market sentiment improves by April at the earliest, says the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
Despite a resurgent pandemic, the TAT aims for Thailand to be among the top five tourism markets in 2021, with revenue ranging from 700 billion to 1.5 trillion baht, said TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn.
Of the total target, the domestic market contributes the main portion of 400-500 billion baht.
But if there are no negative factors, the agency wants to drive the number of domestic trips to 126 million and total expenditure to 774 billion baht, he said.
The outlook for the international market is uncertain because revenue could be as high as 1 trillion baht or plunge to 300 billion baht — the same level for this year, which is likely to close at around 330 billion — depending on the global pandemic situation.
“The TAT has revised its 2021 strategy by setting Thailand tourism for a safe and sustainable future,” Mr Yuthasak said. “We will continue with the plan to maintain health and safety for locals but bring recurring revenue from the international market. It depends on the situation next year.”
For the domestic market, the agency predicts 99.1 million trips generating 575 billion baht if Thailand doesn’t encounter another large-scale outbreak from April and locals cannot travel internationally due to the spread of the virus in other countries.
But if the sentiment doesn’t improve by July, expenditure of domestic tourism may be slightly weaker at 536 billion baht from total trips of 93.3 million.
The worst-case scenario is if Thailand faces a widespread outbreak, prompting another nationwide lockdown. Based on that scenario, GDP shrinks 8%, the number of domestic trips is less than 66 million, a fall of 26.8%, while domestic receipts plunge 24% to 379 billion baht.
But if the lockdown just occurs in certain tourism provinces and GDP contracts by 3%, the number of local trips will tally 76.18 million with 458 billion baht in revenue, down 15.5% and 8.3%, respectively.
Mr Yuthasak said there are at least six negative factors for next year, including spread of the virus globally, uncertain vaccine development, global economic contraction, low confidence in travel safety, a dampened aviation industry and a limited number of inbound travellers under cautious reopening measures.
“If those factors still ravage inbound tourism until October next year, there may only be 6 million tourists, slightly less than this year, when Thailand had 6.7 million tourists before the lockdown,” Mr Yuthasak said.
Another risk to watch is the financial status of tourism operators after the debt holiday ends in October.