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‘Back to basics’ tourism urged to restart the economy

28/06/2020

The call for “back to basics” tourism came at a seminar at the Prince of Songkla University Phuket campus on Thursday (June 25), held to discuss and present a “white paper” on strategies to restart the island’s economy.

At the meeting, the Governor was told that the pandemic had already cost Phuket B160 billion in lost revenues.

Experts at the seminar pointed out that Phuket was not expected to have any more than 5 million tourists in total this whole year, with 1.5mn of those being Thais.

However, according to a report of the seminar, the Governor was also urged to help develop the island’s economy to be not so dependent on tourism alone as an estimated “80-90%” of the island’s income derived from tourism.

“When we have a problem with tourism activities due to the incidents such as the outbreak of COVID-19, the economy is greatly affected,” the report said.

Developing other sectors through public-private projects would help stimulate the economy and help the island cope with other situations that may occur in the future, the report added.

The “white paper” noted that industries that should be developed in parallel with tourism included the marina industry, education industry, health and wellness industry, tuna export industry, local food industry, and sports and events.

“These industries have both opportunities and obstacles,” the report said.

However, the white paper indicated that proper development of the alternative industries, in collaboration with the private sector, could help to contribute up to B350bn a year to the island’s economy.

“The income generated can also be distributed to local communities and create job opportunities in the area,” the report added.

Governor Narong, who arrived on the island to take up the post as Governor only last Friday (June 19), welcomed the suggestions.

“I am happy to hear all comments that lead to problem-solving and the development of Phuket, with the government, private sector and the people all working together,” he said.

“I will act as a leader and a supporter, as Phuket is now going through a most difficult situation,” he added.

Governor Narong also visited the Phuket Social Security Office on Friday, though it was not reported what he was informed of there.

Social Security Office (SSO) Secretary-General Todsapol Krittawongwiman was in Phuket in person a month ago (May 27) to support the work of social security officials on the island.

“I came to inspect the working and management of the Phuket office, as I was informed that around 100,000 people registered to receive relief funds as they have been affected by the economic impact of COVID-19,” Mr Todsapol said.

“Every day, around 1,000 people come to the office to register. One thousand people per day is the highest number in Thailand,” he added.

However, Mr Todsapol also said that 80% of the 100,000 or so people on the island who had registered to receive COVID-relief support payments from the SSO had already received those payments.

That was not the case a week earlier when workers from Patong’s nightlife industry, left out of work and without any income to support themselves, staged a protest in front of the Social Security Office in Kathu.

Phuket Chamber of Commerce President Thanusak Pungdet earlier this month asked for social security payments for unemployed to be extended for further three months as the money provided by the government was already running out, leaving people left jobless without any form of income.

That was on June 10. Weerawit Kreuasombat, President of the Patong Entertainment Business Association (PEBA), confirmed on Tuesday (June 23) that no officials had contacted him about the extra social security support for former entertainment industry workers left without any income.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on June 27, 2020

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Getting Thailand back on its feet – an interview with David Barrett

25/06/2020

Industry expert and respected marketeer David Barrett in discussion with Andrew J Wood on recovering from the impact of the coronavirus on Thailand’s formidable travel and tourism industry.

As Thailand starts to emerge from lockdown what do you believe are the most important points to consider to ensure success?

DB: As we begin to recover, we are presented with an opportunity to reset Thailand’s tourism model and build a better future. Thailand is set up for mass tourism and if we want to see sustainable growth and development we need better control and management of destinations and resources.

We need to be targeting quick-win markets from bubble source markets close to home as the first step. A focus on high-yield tourists is the way to go, in tandem with wooing back mass tourism, whilst being mindful of the need to better manage the Kingdom’s resources, protecting the environment.

When people start to think about travel again, what do you believe they are looking for in a post COVID-19 world?

DB: Biosecurity measures will be top of the list for first movers in international travel. Reassurances that their health and well-being are being taken care of. Hygiene and health measures may cause a little inconvenience compared to the free-spirited travel pre-COVID, but new measures need to be visible to reassure travellers, as safety is paramount. The first wave of travellers are most likely to take baby steps, travelling nationally this year, flying next year short-haul within 4 hours and longhaul hopefully will rebound in volume by 2022. If you’ve broken a leg and you’re on the mend, you don’t enter a marathon. The global tourism industry has been broken and is now in recovery, we need to take little steps close to home first.

In a recent poll 75% of respondents said that the hotel industry in Thailand cannot thrive with only domestic tourism. Do you agree?

DB: We have to rely and survive on domestic tourism as this is the first market to travel. Thankfully the Royal Thai Government also sees the domestic sector as key to kickstarting the tourism economy and their stimulus package of B22.4 billion with subsidies and incentives to boost domestic tourism is a way to go.

Tourism will continue to be a driver of growth for the Thai economy. Historically, international visitors have propelled the industry, but it is Thais’ desire to travel around Thailand that has seen the domestic tourism market grow. If you take a look at one of the niche segments – eco-tourism, more than 60% of small eco tourism operators in Thailand have websites and promotional collateral only in Thai. That says something about the past success and drive to build back domestic tourism as the first-move segment. Neglect domestic tourism at your peril.

Your name is often linked with the MICE industry. With new social distancing guidelines in place for meetings in Thailand do you think the industry can bounce back in Thailand?

DB: MICE will return. However, if you cut through all the positive spin, the reality is that international MICE, that traditionally has been higher yield, will take much longer to rebound. Hopefully shorthaul MICE with Singapore as the regional corporate hub, feeding meetings to Thailand, will return by the third quarter of 2021. Long-haul markets such as Europe and the high rolling incentives from the US, that we started to see growth pre-COVID, won’t be back en mass until the latter half of 2022. It’s a waiting game.

The challenge is for the DMCs who’ve banked their futures on these longhaul markets. Do they have deep enough pockets to ride through this waiting game? Many of the small DMCs have turned to retail to tide them over, but are stressed about the timeline for the return of their business.

In terms of safe distancing at business events, the industry will adapt and as confidence in international travel resumes, I am sure some of the stringent hygiene and health guidelines will be relaxed. The desire to travel and meet people is in our DNA, and I am confident MICE will resume to pre-COVID levels, but it may take three to five years.

The Thai PM is keen to engage with industry experts. What Travel and Tourism advice would you give him?

DB: Please introduce cooperation between the Ministry of Interior, who issues hotel licenses, and the Ministry of Tourism & Sports. The two ministries need to communicate and cooperate for control of Thailand’s tourism development. And ideally bring the Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment into the conversation too. We need better control and planning of tourism resources.

There is much talk about resetting the industry. What do you think our priorities should be?

DB: To reset the industry (1) Carefully introduce bilateral government agreements on travel, so we can open up key source markets, though elimination of entry restrictions. (2) A long-term masterplan for Thai tourism that is sustainable for the environment and stakeholders A plan that everyone buys into, even if there are controls that may impact business operations. (3) Continue the great work of the Tourism Authority of Thailand in promoting Thailand as the jewel in Asia. And please can we have a new campaign and drop “Amazing” which has run its course.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on June 25, 2020 by Andrew J Wood

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Central bank tweaks B500bn soft loan scheme for SMEs

24/06/2020

BANGKOK: The Bank of Thailand is fine-tuning the process of offering B500 billion in soft loans with an aim to provide virus-hit small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with better access.

The central bank has talked with banks about tweaking the scrutiny process to give SMEs easier access to the funding source after some barriers arose, said Ronadol Numnonda, the central bank’s deputy governor for financial institution stability, reports the Bangkok Post.

The imminent rejig will prioritise the soft loan approval process but will keep the same borrower categories and loan conditions because the royal decree does not allow any changes in conditions.

Mr Ronadol said the loan adjustment is expected to be completed by this month and will be ready in the next few weeks.

The Bank of Thailand requires banks to report demand for the soft loan scheme every Monday, he said, and the central bank is monitoring loan demand and withdrawals.

“The BoT has talked to banks about soft loan demand and its barriers in order to improve the loan extension process,” Mr Ronadol said. “This will help support the liquidity of SME business operators battered by the outbreak and help overcome the crisis.”

According to central bank data, 51,991 SMEs have applied for the central bank’s soft loans with a credit line request of B80.7bn after the scheme’s applications were made available on April 1.

The central bank is offering the B500bn in soft loans at 0.01% interest to financial institutions for two years to re-lend to SMEs with a maximum credit line of B500 million at 2% interest. The government will absorb interest charges for six months for SMEs that receive soft loans.

To be eligible, SMEs must operate domestically, be non-listed companies, have a credit line of up to B500mn from financial institutions, and continue to service debt or make late payments of less than 90 days at the end of last year.

The maximum drawdown for the soft loans is set at 20% of each bank’s loans outstanding at the end of December. The government will partly compensate financial institutions for losses that are incurred.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on June 24, 2020 by Bangkok Post

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Phase 3 reopening generates more than 200bn baht monthly cash flow

15/06/2020

BANGKOK(NNT)-With many establishments returning to business as usual, Phase 3 of COVID-19 restriction easing has generated no less than 200 billion baht cash flow in the economy per month. To encourage businesses to adapt to the New Normal, the Thai Chamber of Commerce has launched a forum for the brainstorming of ideas on the next business trends that must comply with health regulations for safe business operations.

At the Thai Chamber of Commerce’s (TCC) seminar on the government’s Phase 3 of COVID-19 restriction easing, TCC Chairman Kalin Sarasin urged the private sector to prioritize health and safety protocols, as the resumption of business has resulted in no less than 200 billion baht monthly cash flow in the economy.

Some businesses are, however, still not allowed to operate due to higher risk of coronavirus transmission and a concern over the possibility for a second outbreak. Businesses in this category will be allowed to reopen in Phase 4 in the future.

The TCC chairman said he is confident the business sector can handle the precautionary measures, and are ready to welcome international investors and visitors, which will allow the economy to regenerate.

He said the general public are now willing to go out shopping, generating cash circulation in local economies, and helping to prevent economic performance from dropping further.

The TCC expects Thailand’s GDP this year will shrink by 3-5 percent, which is more optimistic than the IMF’s prediction at negative 6-7 percent.

A Senior Research Fellow at Thailand’s Development Research Institute (TDRI), Miss Saowaruj Rattanakhamfu, presented research on Work From Home benefits for both employers and employees, as this approach helps reduce the costs related to utilities, travel, clothing and recreation by an average of 3,000 baht each month.

Courtesy: Published at Business Thailand TV on June 13, 2020

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Globally – Thailand Ranks Second For Covid-19 Recovery

15/06/2020

Statistics say that Thailand ranks Second in the world for the highest Covid-19 recovery

According to a report issued by the Global COVID-19 Index (GCI) on 11 June 2020. Australia leads the way worldwide followed by Thailand.

Thailand leading the way in Asia

The Thai government facebook page PR Thai Government referenced data form the GCI.

Global COVID-19 Index (GCI) developed by PEMANDU Associates in collaboration with Malaysia’s Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MOSTI) and the Sunway Group.The index scores 184 countries on how well they are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following the same statistics provided (here) by the Global COVID-19 Index (GCI) Thailand is also number 1 in Asia.

Thailand’s successful measures to fight the global pandemic is the 11pm to 3am curfew. Now the curfew is being repealed, due to consistent low numbers. Most businesses are allowed to open.

Moving forward

Thailand is now entering Phase 4 of their nationwide covid-19 response. Businesses are beginning to reopen.

There are exceptions for the Phase 4 reopening. Nightclubs, erotic massage parlours (or “soapy massage”), inflatable castles and ball pits are still restricted.

Travel

Domestic flights are resuming across the country and can carry passengers at full capacity.

Transportation centers that operate buses, vans, and trains can also fully reopen – however passengers (in vehicles) must be capped at 70 percent.

Everyone will continue wearing a mask in public.

Hotels are now looking at the domestic market until the country fully reopens to international flights however.

Courtesy: Published at Asia Lifestyle Magazine on June 15, 2020

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Commerce Ministry announces another round of price drops on staple products

07/06/2020

The Thai Ministry of Commerce will soon launch a fourth round of price reductions, which will take place at a district level. The ministry has already received cooperation from the business sector to help those affected Covid-19 by lowering product prices, sometimes by as much as 68%, on 3 occasions,

In the fourth round, around 7,100 consumer goods are being added to the price reduction list. They will be sold at designated locations in 878 districts nationwide. People in those districts will be able to buy 5 kilograms of rice at a price of 95 baht, 10 chicken eggs for 20 baht, a bottle of cooking (palm) oil for 30 baht, canned fish at 10 baht and a kilogram of sugar for 20 baht.

This week, Deputy PM and Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit held a teleconference with provincial commerce officials. They were directed to promote the price reduction project to local people. The project will initially be launched in 45 districts tomorrow and all other districts by next month.

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on June 7, 2020 by NNT

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Government to provide more financial aid to small and medium-sized businesses

27/05/2020

Thailand’s Ministry of Finance has been tasked with coming up with plans for additional financial aid to small and medium-sized enterprises affected by the Covid-19 crisis. Government Spokesperson Narumon Pinyosinwat made the announcement yesterday.

“The Ministry of Finance will estimate the budget to be used as well as the loan limit and interest rate, and will present to the Cabinet again in the next meeting.”

A source told Nation Thailand the ministry’s survey revealed that SME operators, who couldn’t get loans at the height of the crisis, were mostly those who had never applied for a loan before and so had no record of their repayment ability. They were refused loans to avoid risk. Furthermore, some SMEs were rejected loans because their status was listed under “non-performing loans,” even though they still have the capacity to continue operating.

The source says the Ministry of Finance has assigned the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion to come up with measures tailored specifically to help SMEs in the above 2 groups, such as providing loans from the OSMEP’s fund instead of relying on financial institutions. The measures are expected to be ready by the end of July.

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on May 27, 2020 by The Nation

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Phuket’s economy is more than just tourism

16/05/2020

While Phuket’s brand and economic reality is that nearly half of its contribution to GPP (gross provincial product) comes from tourism is true, it’s important to understand that there are other generators that will aid in the island’s post-crisis recovery.

The island’s real estate sector, that currently has a market value of over 100 billion baht (according to data from FazWaz) in primary and secondary properties for sale, demonstrates the scale and contribution to employment and services.

It’s not all about tourism.

According to our newly completed Phuket Economic Overview by C9 Hotelworks, 87% of foreign work permits as issued to nationals of Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar and are highly leveraged in commercial construction, real estate and hospitality. Other nationalities total 9,835 work permits across the broader economic strata.

International schools, attracting both local and foreign residents, Thais from Bangkok and regional expatriate families, represent almost 4,000 students. Thailand’s non-immigrant ED-dependent visas also have an allowance for parents of students under 20 years of age to obtain a visa, which waterfalls into the property and services sector as well.

Other key demand-generators include international standard hospitals, marinas and a growing retail marketplace. While these have a linkage to tourism, their underpinned recurring cash flows are from full and part time residents, both Thai and foreign.

Post-crisis, Phuket’s scale of services, education, health and wellness, real estate, retirement and sports is likely to see growth as a result of a shift in trends towards quality of life in a resort type island community.

Mounting concern in Bangkok and other Asian gateway CBD areas over air pollution for families with school age children is another macro element that makes Phuket an alternative home base. This is further amplified with the new norm of working remotely and video networking.

Phuket, like most of the world for the remainder of 2020 and in the medium term, will be challenged economically, but the notion that the future is hinged only on tourism is wrong, once you get beyond the beach and look at other scalable business models.

To read and download the C9 Hotelworks Phuket Economic Overview, click HERE.

Phuket's economy is more than just tourism | News by The ThaigerPhuket's economy is more than just tourism | News by The Thaiger

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on May 16, 2020 by Bill Barnett

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Businesses gear up for June boost

12/05/2020

THAILAND: More activities and medium-sized businesses which have been temporarily halted or closed since late March will be allowed to resume next month, as the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) mulls a further easing of government-imposed restrictions ordered to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus disease.

CCSA spokesman Taweesilp Visanuyothin said yesterday (May 11) the centre, which is headed by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, will consider on Friday three broad categories of activities and businesses which will be allowed to resume under what he called the “Phase-2 lockdown”.

On the list are advertisement production, sports competitions without spectators, restaurants, food shops in office buildings, public libraries and department stores. Entertainment venues inside malls, such as movie theatres, are excluded.

That said, a government source close to the CCSA said that shopping malls may not be included in the Phase-2 lockdown, which is set to take effect on May 17.

Authorities have set a rough timeline for the gradual lifting of lockdowns, with the third phase likely to be announced in early June. The final phase, which is expected to be announced in mid-June, will see “all businesses and activities” reopening, the source said.

Dr Taweesilp admitted that as of now, the list of activities and businesses which will be allowed to reopen in the second phase of easing are still subject to change.

“Many discussions are still needed among health and security authorities, as well as experts from the National Economic and Social Development Council,” the spokesman said at yesterdy’s daily briefing on COVID-19 infections.

They need to discuss the easing of restrictions thoroughly and carefully, as what they suggest will impact public health guidelines, he said.

One factor that will be taken into consideration is whether the six types of businesses and activities which have been allowed to resume since May 3 have strictly followed mandatory health guidelines to prevent a new round of COVID-19 infections, he said.

Markets, food shops, street stalls and hair salons (including pet groomers) are among the businesses that were allowed to reopen on May 3. Outdoor exercises and non-contact sports were also allowed.

The latest rounds of inspections conducted on May 10 found that 5,644 or or 30.4% out of the 18,512 venues which reopened on May 3 failed to comply with mandatory health guidelines, with 449 or 2.37% found to be ignoring hygiene practices.

The numbers were slightly lower than violations found between May 3-9, during which 109,425 venues were checked, according to the CCSA.

In the Phase-2 lockdown, though the green light to resume will be given to certain businesses and activities, both operators and people are still required to strictly follow health guidelines.

For example, Dr Taweesilp said, a commercial advertisement shoot can only have five people on set in order to maintain social-distancing guidelines.

The same CCSA source said yesterday he did not believe shopping malls will be allowed to reopen under the Phase-2 lockdown, saying they should instead be among the last businesses to resume normal operations.

Claims which stated that shopping malls will reopen around the middle of this month probably came from “shopping mall owners who wanted to test the waters”, he said.

“The reopening of department stores will depend on whether people can take care of themselves,” the source said, adding their public awareness is crucial to prevent new outbreaks.

However, according to Dr Taweesilp, hundreds of people have continued to defy the curfew order. As of late on Sunday, the numbers of curfew violators stood at 597.

At least 89 people gathered illegally – with 55% of cases involving alcohol and parties.

Meanwhile, the CCSA yesterday reported six new coronavirus cases, bringing the total in Thailand to 3,015 since the outbreak of the virus. No additional deaths were reported, leaving the accumulated toll at 56, said Dr Taweesilp.

Another two people recovered, bringing the total number of discharged patients to 2,796.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on May 12, 2020 by Bangkok Post

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Phuket’s tourist-driven economy faces crisis – Phuket Chamber of Commerce

11/05/2020

Phuket’s tourism-driven economy is facing what one city official calls a crisis, comparing the economic impact to what it was after the 2004 tsunami. Phuket’s economy has become increasingly focused on tourism and hospitality over the past 2 decades.

The Phuket Chamber of Commerce President Thunusak Phungdet said at a meeting last Thursday that Phuket has no income right now.

The island province basically runs off tourism, and Thanusak says the industry won’t recover anytime soon. He estimates that in 6 months, the city’s tourism businesses might have about 20-30% of the income they had before the pandemic. And unemployment is probably the highest in Thailand, he says.

More than 50,000 people have registered to move off the island now that the island’s checkpoint has been relaxed since the start of May.

Thanusak is calling the government to work cautiously in re-opening the island’s tourism and find solutions to problems like feeding the hungry. But the situation has also brought up the idea that Phuket should add some variety into its economy instead of relying on the unpredictable flow of tourists.

“Phuket must have a plan for development, and must consider in which direction Phuket will go… a good mix of businesses will make Phuket stronger.”

“Phuket should not have income from only tourism. Phuket has the opportunity to make money from various locations, or as a ‘stopover’ or a place where world-class private workers like Singapore, Hong Kong can join.”

“With a sustainable economy not so dependent on tourists… Phuket can become a world-class city.”

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on May 11, 2020 by The Phuket News

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