Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) cut its estimate for international arrivals to 33 million in 2020, while tourism businesses have been knocked hard by the Covid-19 spreading around the world.

The Association of Thai Travel Agents (Atta) reported foreign tourists using Atta member services from January to Feb 20 was 500,232, a decrease of 40.7%. During Feb 1-20, the numbers slid 74.1% to 90,908 tourists.

But Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn has painted an even darker outlook for Thailand’s previously-robust tourism industry saying says he expects tourist arrivals to plunge by 50% in the first half of 2020.

While the Thai government plans to offer the beleaguered tourist sector soft loans and tax incentives to help them weather this slowdown, the plunge in tourists will likely damage the livelihood of millions of people whose jobs are tied to tourism.

Thailand’s Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council projects the virus will push its expansion down to 1.5% this year — should the epidemic last through June — down from 2.4% last year.

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