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Covid-19 devastates Thailand’s tourist islands


The streets of Koh Samui, one of Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations, are eerily quiet. Along the road to Chaweng Beach, a usually noisy party area, shuttered shops stretch out in the distance.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, there was a lot of traffic. Taxi drivers now sit on the side of the road, with little hope of finding clients. Where bikini-clad sun worshipers once scoured souvenir shops and drank in neon-lit bars, a lone street dog sprawls across the sidewalk. Elsewhere, swathes of Samui’s idyllic white sand beaches are almost entirely free of people.

About 40 million tourists flocked to Thailand last year, drawn to its spectacular coastlines, ornate temples and renowned cuisine. Yet in 2020, the country will struggle to attract even a quarter of that number, according to the Tourism Board of Thailand (TAT).

Tourism came to a halt in April, when Thailand banned all inbound passenger flights. The country – which has so far succeeded in containing Covid-19, recording 3,255 cases and 58 deaths – is discussing travel bubbles with low-risk neighboring countries, but no one knows when these might be established. The borders remain closed to almost all foreign tourists.

The travel industry has already survived devastating crises, including the 2004 tsunami, avian flu and the Sars epidemics. But the impact of the coronavirus pandemic is incomparable, says Tanes Petsuwan, vice governor of marketing communications at TAT. In previous crises, incomes have fallen by about a fifth, he said. This year, the coronavirus pandemic is expected to result in an 80% drop in …

Full Story: FR24News