Omicron effect on tourism

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Omicron effect on tourism

Post by Gaybutton »

"It's déjà vu all over again"
- Yogi Berra

As far as I know, Christmas and New Year's Eve celebrations have not been canceled - at least not yet. However, much more stringent precautions are being put in place. I suggest making sure to wear the face mask and if you have had both injections, take proof of it with you.

And watch out for police raids. I heard, but have not yet been able to personally confirm, that the police were at it again, closing the Jomtien Complex bars last night (December 22). However, the bars are expected to reopen again as soon as this evening. If anyone knows the story on that, please post and let us know what happened.

Considering the effect Omicron may have on tourism, at this point it makes about zero sense to me to have the police going around harassing and closing bars, but that has been happening whether they closed the complex last night or not.
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A bad case of déjà vu for Thai tourism

The suspension of the Test & Go scheme threatens to ruin yet another high season

by Narumon Kasemsuk

23 December, 2021

The emergence of the Covid-19 variant Omicron, which has tallied 104 confirmed cases in Thailand, is bringing back bad memories of last year when the second wave stomped on the festive season just a few weeks before the New Year holiday.

The tourism industry, which contributed up to 20% of GDP during boom years, plummeted to 1.79% of GDP during the first half of 2021, largely as a result of border closures.

The decision by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) to suspend the "Test & Go" scheme nationwide means Thailand may take the same stance it had in the first half of 2021, with all new registrants for the Thailand Pass facing mandatory quarantine. Entry via the Phuket airport through the sandbox programme is another option, requiring at least a seven-day stay on the island.

The fate of tourism in the first quarter next year remains a mystery as the CCSA will decide on Jan 4 whether to extend the suspension or adjust the entry rules.

From Nov 1-30, there were 133,061 arrivals, both Thais and foreigners, of which 106,211 entered via the Test & Go scheme, followed by 21,438 under the sandbox programme. Those at quarantine facilities tallied just 5,412.

Momentum built in December as the festive season helped push growth between Dec 1-21, with arrivals surpassing the whole month of November at 182,578. Of those numbers, 156,807 were approved via Test & Go applications, while sandbox and quarantine travellers were 21,646 and 4,125, respectively.

With 21,440 Covid deaths in total, bitterness over three lockdowns and large-scale unemployment, Thais are anxious over a new outbreak from Omicron despite the administration of more than 100 million vaccine doses.

The dilemma of balancing health, safety and the economy is yet again becoming a tremendous challenge for a tourism industry that has only just started to recover the past two months.

CLUED IN

"We had a clue before the CCSA announcement on Tuesday that a more stringent entry process might be reinstated, as almost every country did the same. We cannot avoid this situation," said Supawan Tanomkieatipume, former Thai Hotels Association president.

She said hotels have been the most affected by the latest regulatory adjustment, but the highly contagious variant requires health and safety be prioritised to sustain business in the long run.

"All hotels will feel the impact to different degrees because we just rehired workers and incurred more costs from preparations to serve the high season. Hotels in Bangkok suffer the most as they don't have a domestic market to cushion the impact," said Mrs Supawan.

She said if the government can adjust the screening measures this month and resume the Test & Go scheme in early January, the tourism impact will last for only two months as people unable to obtain Test & Go approval would find other holiday destinations for January and February instead.

But if the government cannot convince local communities and travellers to change safety procedures as soon as possible, the tourism industry will lose the whole of the lucrative high season, said Mrs Supawan, who is also deputy managing director at the Twin Towers Hotel Bangkok.

She said her hotel served as a hospitel for Covid patients with mild symptoms. The Twin Towers previously planned to exit hospitel status, but consistent demand from patients has kept its service running.

LEAVE THE DOOR OPEN

If stringent measures are required, the sandbox programme is the only acceptable choice for Phuket, said Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, president of the Phuket Tourist Association.

The CCSA decision to allow Phuket to continue as a sandbox destination delighted tourism operators in the province as they can have direct flights as usual.

"We're confident with our screening measure as every arrival must take an RT-PCR test at the airport before being assigned to pre-booked hotels. There's a very low chance any of them can skip the test. This is an important process, as in recent months we mostly detected Covid cases through the first test at the airport," said Mr Bhummikitti.

He said tourism operators acknowledged the recent CCSA measures are necessary, even though they might receive fewer travellers.

Tourism operators also agreed to follow government advice, particularly regarding New Year events, as more people are concerned about the new variant.

DIFFERENT SCENARIOS

However, Mr Bhummikitti said the virus situation in Thailand and overseas should be handled differently.

Recent outbreaks in many Western countries are mainly attributed to people who refuse to be vaccinated and preventive discipline, which differs from the experience of Thailand, where most tourism destinations are comprehensively vaccinated and people consistently wear face masks and use sanitiser, he said.

Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, said the temporary suspension was unavoidable as the number of new Omicron cases detected in arrivals via the Test & Go scheme rose rapidly.

https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/22 ... ai-tourism

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Re: Omicron effect on tourism

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Gaybutton wrote:
Thu Dec 23, 2021 9:53 am
And watch out for police raids.
I was there during a police "raid" a couple of weeks ago.
They were not exactly abseiling off helecopters, marching up the street in riot gear or even arresting anyone.
A police pickup was at the top of the soi, lights flashing and they were in the building at the top of the soi talking to the management. The bars were sending us away.
Last night, I gather they were simply told to close.
Of course, there's no guarantee that it will always be like that, but I didn't see much risk to customers.

Incidentally, I wandered up that street one afternoon recently and counted 7 places with SHA accreditation displayed. I probably missed a few, since Lupins and some others must have it. The popular bars certainly do.

As for Omicron and tourism, I suspect the suspension of Test and Go is pointless, as there will be more domestic transmission than from tourists.

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Re: Omicron effect on tourism

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Jun wrote:
Thu Dec 23, 2021 8:28 pm
Of course, there's no guarantee that it will always be like that
That is the point. The fact that they haven't doesn't guarantee that they won't. I think they would be idiotic to start arresting customers, but if next time they do, it will be far from the first time.

Whether they start arresting customers or not, it doesn't help the tourist industry.

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Re: Omicron effect on tourism

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Only yesterday, December 23, the 'official' number of Omicron cases in Thailand was 104. Today, December 24, the number is 205 - virtually doubled in one day. Your guess is as good as mine as to how Thailand's powers-that-be are going to respond, especially if the numbers keep growing at this rate, but if that happens my expectation is the same as a line used in several movies - "It won't be pretty". Will there be lockdowns again? Restrictions again? Bars forced closed again? Alcohol restrictions again? Curfews again?

And who knows if yet another new variant will sooner or later be on the horizon?

Time will tell.
__________________________________________________________________________

Over 200 Omicron cases confirmed in Thailand, Kalasin -Udon Thani cluster of concern

December 24, 2021

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul revealed today (Friday) that 205 Omicron cases have been confirmed in the country to date, with the husband-wife couple in Kalasin province, who recently returned from Belgium, being the origin of the most worrying cluster.

The couple’s initial COVID-19 test results were negative and they travelled back to their hometown, before visiting their children in Udon Thani. Relatives who came in close contact with the couple subsequently tested positive for the Omicron variant, which is thought to have come from the couple.

Based on the investigation, 22 people were in close contact them, including 19 restaurant staff and 3 members of the family. Another 100 people are also at risk.

Meanwhile, in the case of an Israeli tourist who escaped from an “alternative” quarantine facility in Bangkok and initially tested positive for the Omicron variant before testing negative once he appeared to have recovered, Anutin said that the Health Service Support Department will investigate whether the hotel being used as the facility had been lax in enforcing the required measures, which allowed for the escape of the tourist.

As to rumours that another lockdown will be imposed in the New Year, Anutin confirmed that there will not be a lockdown. Some areas have, however, already cancelled their New Year events. He urged provincial health offices to monitor the countdown celebrations and to make sure that such events comply strictly with the required anti-COVID measures, otherwise offices can order the cancellation of the event.

https://www.thaipbsworld.com/over-200-o ... f-concern/

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Re: Omicron effect on tourism

Post by Jun »

Omicron spreads like hell, but has a lower hospitalisation rate, according to UK experience.

After everyone has access to vaccines, Thailand should just carry on with no restrictions at all. Just offer some friendly advice for the people at highest risk to take care for a few weeks.

What the government actually do is another matter.

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Re: Omicron effect on tourism

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Nothing specific in the article about how Thailand plans to deal with international tourism, but I don't think it takes very much brain power to figure out that if they plan to reactivate home isolation, there is bound to be more restrictions and/or mandatory testing and quarantining of international arrivals - none of which helps to attract tourists at the time Thailand most needs them. Hopefully things won't get as drastic as we experienced before, but there is no way to know that yet. And if yet a new, dangerous variant occurs, the drastic measures could easily be reinstated.

There is no reason just yet to expect anything major, but if you're planning a trip to Thailand you need to bear in mind the possibilities and be prepared to deal with whatever happens - and that includes the possibility of border closings again. It also includes the possibility of difficulties when trying to reenter your home country.

I know I am probably coming across as a pessimistic gloom and doomer, but if any of those things really do happen, it won't be the first time.

The part that still annoys me and remains on my "I Don't Get It" list is why, at least so far, Thailand hasn't turned to expats for help bringing money into the economy. The first thing that comes to my mind is that 800,000 baht requirement for the retirement visa. Wouldn't it make sense to let us spend some of that money instead of being forced to keep it just sitting there in a Thai bank account? Why 800,000? If they won't do away with the requirement to keep that much in our bank accounts, what about reducing that figure and freeing up some of our money? Can't they come up with better ways of assuring themselves that we expats have enough money to take care of ourselves without becoming a burden on Thailand?

Oh well, dream on . . .
__________________________________________________________

Thailand unveils plans to cope with Omicron COVID variant outbreak

December 27, 2021

Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health has unveiled plans to cope with a potential outbreak of the COVID-19 Omicron variant next year, including the reactivation of the home isolation program, as the main way to accommodate the infected, and community isolation facilities in Bangkok to shelter infected children, said Dr. Somsak Akksilp, director-general of Medical Services Department, today (Monday).

He stressed that both home and community isolation facilities would be the right response in the first 1-2 months of an Omicron outbreak, as information from many countries indicates that this rapidly spreading variant is not as life-threatening as the Delta strain. Most Omicron patients develop symptoms associated with upper respiratory tractinfection, such as fever, sore throat and dry cough, although there are some cases of mild lung infection but, after about three days of treatment with Favipiravir, their conditions improved.

In case there are more cases of serious lung infection, Dr.Somsak said that there will be about 11,000 hospital beds available.

Regarding data from confirmed 100 Omicron variant cases in Thailand, Dr. Somsak said that 99 came from abroad and all of them have received at least two vaccine doses.

48 have shown no symptoms while 41 developed some symptoms, including seven cases of lung infection, he said, adding that none of these patients are on ventilators and there are no fatalities so far.

Meanwhile, Public Health Permanent Secretary Dr.Kiattibhoom Vongrachit forecast that more Omicron variant cases will be reported in the future, but he asked the public to have trust in the capabilities of the Thai health system, citing the success in containing the Delta variant with only 20% of the population being vaccinated at the time.

He reiterated the importance of public cooperation, by protecting themselves, as a key element in success and disclosed that, currently, there are 514 confirmed or suspected Omicron cases in Thailand, scattered across 14 provinces.

He assured that there are enough beds in hospitals to cope with a mass outbreak of Omicron infections, with an ability to increase the number of beds nationwide to 200,000, as was the case during the peak of Delta infections.

He also said that the ministry has 15 million tablets of the Favipiravir anti-viral medication in stock, which is enough for two months, while the Government Pharmaceutical Organization has enough ingredients to produce 30 million tablets within a month for 2 months.

https://www.thaipbsworld.com/thailand-u ... -outbreak/

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Re: Omicron effect on tourism

Post by Jun »

People are less likely to end up in hospital with Omicron and when they get there, they are likely to spend less time inside.

Additionally, Thailand has been busy vaccinating everyone who wants a vaccine.

So they should keep off the restrictions this time.

However, what they actually do is another matter.

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Re: Omicron effect on tourism

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Jun wrote:
Tue Dec 28, 2021 8:40 pm
People are less likely to end up in hospital with Omicron
Apparently Thailand's tourism industry is suffering yet again because people don't want to take that risk at all and don't want to spend part of their holiday quarantined. I'm sorry to see this happening, and at the worst possible time, but there is just too much uncertainty with all aspects of a trip to Thailand. I suppose people are finding elsewhere to go or just staying home.

Pattaya's beaches have been doing fairly well, but most of it is Thais coming in from Bangkok. Even with that, while there has been much more traffic in Pattaya so far during this holiday season, I have not seen anything at all like the tremendous traffic jams that were invariably so typical on holiday weekends before anyone ever heard of Covid. I have not seen any serious traffic backups at all.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Omicron panic decimates Thai tourism "high season" - foreign tourists cancel, events scrapped, flights stopped, insurance woes

By webfact

December 29, 2021

Thai business media reported that the tourist "high season" was in tatters in Thailand because of the Omicron variant.

Foreign tourists - with no appetite for going through a seven day quarantine since Test and Go was suspended - have been cancelling in droves.

They are cancelling trips to Phuket.

Flights into the holiday island are being scrapped with TUI Nordic stopping them on Christmas Day.

In Chiang Mai tours are being cancelled and hotel bookings are going unfilled.

Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang pulled the plug on New Year events by the BMA.

The media put this down to Omicron and noted that this comes despite general acceptance that the variant means less hospitalization but is considered faster spreading.

The impact on tourists potentially testing positive once in Thailand is enough to tell them "no thanks" and persuade them to stay in the US and Europe for now.

Trying to buck the trend are tourism leaders in Rayong, Pattaya and Hua Hin with requests to be considered "sandbox" destinations.

But these seem little more than forlorn hopes with the market for trips to Thailand thoroughly depressed.

Whether January will see any renewed hope remains highly debatable with Omicron sweeping Europe and the US with record numbers and Thailand itself bracing for worse days to come.

Central, The Mall Group and Icon Siam - three major retail groups - are pressing ahead with New Year plans with Covid protocols - but what visitors they have will mostly be domestic Thais not international visitors.

Meanwhile it was also reported that insurance companies face payouts of 20 billion baht on Covid policies - the new variant is overstretching them and means that many are facing losses after miscalculating the cost of policies.

All in all, "Happy New Year" as far as the Thai tourism industry goes looks a hollow saying this year.

https://aseannow.com/topic/1244886-omic ... ance-woes/

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Re: Omicron effect on tourism

Post by Jun »

These are problems caused by government policy, not omicron.

Looking at data for London, the number of Omicron infections has increased at a very rapid rate. At the same time, the percentage of hospital beds occupied by people whose primary illness is COVID has declined. Fewer people go to hospital and they have shorter stays. Also, the number of delta infections has fallen since Omicron took hold.

If that's what Omicron brings, I would suggest Thailand should abolish pretty much all entry restrictions for COVID, as Omicron looks to be less of a problem than feared.

In any case, Omicron is already here, so stopping tourists is pointless.

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Re: Omicron effect on tourism

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Jun wrote:
Wed Dec 29, 2021 6:32 pm
In any case, Omicron is already here, so stopping tourists is pointless.
Unfortunately, trying to convince the powers-that-be would be an exercise in futility.

Personally, even though I have had 2 injections I am still afraid of Covid and still take all the precautions.

While I wouldn't want Omicron, I'm not afraid of it.

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