Thailand's March foreign tourists arrivals down 99.2% y/y to just 6,700


An empty hotel shuttle boat crosses the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok on April 12, 2021. - AFP

BANGKOK, April 23 (Reuters): Thailand recorded 6,737 foreign tourist arrivals in March, down 99.2% from a year earlier, after a gradual easing of strict border controls to contain coronavirus infections.

The slump compares to 819,429 visitors recorded in March last year, when the tourism-reliant nation imposed a state of emergency in a bid to combat the pandemic.

In January-March, there were 20,172 foreign arrivals, down 99.7% from 6.69 million in the same period last year.

Thailand has managed to keep its Covid-19 cases far lower than many other countries, but a third wave of infections, which includes the highly-transmissible B.1.1.7 variant, has seen over 20,000 domestic cases with 27 deaths in just 23 days.

The new outbreak is likely to take longer to control than the previous waves and may affect Thailand's tentative steps to reopen more broadly to foreign visitors later this year, the Kasikorn Research Center said.

Alongside the impact of global travel uncertainty, Kasikorn predicts only 250,000 to 1.2 million foreign tourists in 2021, down from 2 million projected in March.

That compares with nearly 40 million foreign arrivals in 2019, who spent 1.91 trillion baht ($60.8 billion), or about 11% of gross domestic product. - Reuters
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