Curfew and insurance coverage are urgent tasks to be solved by Thailand tourism industry
Softening the current strict curfew across the country and finding a way to have tourists covered by insurance will be the two major problems that the tourism private sector will have to deal with the current military administration for the time being.
“We must talk to the military administration and certainly explain them the importance of tourism for Thailand’s economy but also for the well-being of locals as it is an important source of income”. The comment comes from the President of the Tourism Council of Thailand, Mrs.Piyaman Tejapaibul. She went yesterday to the meeting between the Military administration of the new National Council for Peace and Order which now manages the fate of the Kingdom. The TCT and his members totally understand the necessity for the army to reign into the mess created during the last six months –if not longer- by political parties in the Kingdom. For international observers, Thailand has been on the brink of total collapse, some even evocating a possible civil war between pro-and anti-government forces.
It should all be “passé” now with the military force being endorsed by the King of Thailand. On Monday morning, General Prayuth Chan-ocha was officially designated leader of the NCPO. The army strongman is promising to first bring back safety and peace to the country and fix the economy.
This is where there is probably a need for tourism professionals to discuss with the military about the current curfew rule. As the curfew is implemented from 10:00 pm until 5:00 am, most businesses have to close now very early, between 8 pm and 9 pm to provide sufficient time for employees to go home. It means that all traditional night activities, from restaurants to cinemas, from food stalls to late-night shops are losing customers. If the curfew lasts for long, this will further depress the economy which is already on the brink of recession. It would likely translate into rising unemployment.
Some Thai sources said that the curfew was due to be eased last Sunday but demonstrations in the city centre against the coup postponed the decision…
The TCT and other travel institutions must probably first do a PR exercise towards the military administration to explain how much is at stake. Tourism represents 10% of Thailand GDP, making up to US$ 73.8 billion last year, according to numbers produces by the World Travel and Tourism Council.
According to their numbers, the travel industry provides jobs for 2.56 million people, or 6.6% of the Kingdom’s total employment. The TCT will now try again to talk to the military to have the curfew partially lifted. “If we could have it pushed back by two hours to midnight, it would already significantly improve the perception among travellers and help lots of people depending of tourism”, hopes Mrs. Tajapaibul, who still believes that the curfew will be short-lived.
Another acute problem will be to solve the insurance coverage for travellers. Although travel warnings from foreign countries have less impact than in the past on individual travellers, it however has a negative side: insurances refuse to cover tourists going to countries placed on a travel warning list. The TCT and other tourism stakeholders would love to see the government solving the problem by providing automatically insurance coverage to travellers as long as travel advisories remain in place. Although business travel and especially the MICE will continue to be affected, at least individual travellers would feel more confident to visit again the Kingdom.