In what is supposed to be Thailand’s peak tourist season, the long tail boats along the Chao Phraya river, in the heart of Bangkok, are mostly empty these days. Tour operators have never seen it so quiet in October, Al Jazeera’s Aela Callan reports.
Athiraj, a tour operator in Bangkok, said: “The number of tourists has decreased at least 50 per cent. Normally this time of year is the start of the high season and a lot of tourists are coming. But now it feels like we are still in the low season.”
Around the Grand Palace, one of the Thai capital’s main tourist attractions, the city’s famous tuk-tuks sit idle, as do many street vendors who are barely scraping together a living selling souvenirs.
“This year is the worst. It’s actually the worst of the worst,” Jintana, a tour-boat operator, said.
“Normally I have so many tourists. The number is so enormous I do not have time to eat.”
The downturn is expected to cost Thailand $4bn.
Most blame the ongoing political upheaval in the country which has left the $14bn-a-year tourist industry feeling the heat.
The political troubles are highly visible.
Red-shirted supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister, regularly hold rallies outside popular tourist attractions, catching many visitors unawares.
It was the closure of Bangkok airport this time last year by Thaksins yellow-shirted opponents that has lingered in the minds of many foreign visitors.
In most tourist areas of Thailand, locals are hanging their hopes on a surge of last-minute bookings to lift them out of the slump.
Bangkok’s largest hotel remains optimistic, though, and will continue with planned renovations in a vote of confidence for Thai tourism.
Roel Constantino, of the Shangri La Bangkok, told Al Jazeera: “If it’s the higher end of the market, because they have a choice and because they have the resources, the perception of political stability will probably come into play more than the economies of it.”
Clearly, it appears one thing above all else will bring tourists back to the Land of Smiles: stablity.
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COVID-19 situation in Thailand as of 21 February 2021
• 150 new cases of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 were announced by the Ministry of Public Health of Thailand bringing the total number of cases to date to 25,111.
No new deaths were reported today.
• Of the cases reported in Thailand, 95.4% (23,946) have recovered, 0.3% (82) have died, and 4.3% (1,083) are receiving treatment or are in isolation (870 are in conventional hospitals and 213 in field hospitals).
• The laboratory-confirmed cases reported today include
8 individuals who arrived recently in Thailand and were diagnosed in quarantine facilities.
38 cases detected through the routine surveillance system linked to occupational risk, visiting crowded places or contact with confirmed cases in Samut Sakhon (19 Thais, 7 Burmese), Bangkok (5 Thais), Pathum Thani (3 Burmese), Maha Sarakham (1 Thai), Ayutthaya (1 Burmese), Tak (1 Thai), and Nakhon Pathom (1 Thai).
104 cases identified through active case finding in Pathum Thani (17 Thais, 24 Burmese, 1 Laotian) and Samut Sakhon (2 Thais, 60 Burmese).
• Of 142 cases acquired in Thailand, 62% were detected in Samut Sakhon, 4% in Bangkok and 35% in other provinces.
• During the new wave (between 15 December 2020 and 18 February 2021), 20,874 confirmed cases have been reported, of which 5,727 were detected through the routine surveillance system, 14,256 through active case finding and 891 are in individuals who entered Thailand, detected through screening in quarantine. At present, 19,769 have recovered, 1,083 are receiving treatment, and 22 have died.
• Confirmed cases in the new wave in Thailand have been reported in 63 provinces.
The post Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation in Thailand as of 21 February 2021, 11.30 Hrs. appeared first on TAT Newsroom.
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