Thai cenbank says could be several years before tourist numbers normalise

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FILE PHOTO: Thailand’s Central Bank Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob speaks during an interview with Reuters at the Bank of Thailand in Bangkok, Thailand, October 4, 2019.
Photo:REUTERS/Matthew Tostevin

Thailand’s central bank chief said on Monday it would take several years for foreign tourist numbers to return to the 40 million a year level, with the coronavirus pandemic hitting a lucrative industry that provides a lot of jobs.

The Bank of Thailand (BOT) expects only 8 million foreign visitors this year, down 80% from a record 39.8 million last year, when foreign receipts accounted for 11.4% of GDP.

The central bank has forecast Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy will shrink by a record 8.1%, with bottom seen in the second quarter, Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob told a seminar.

“It will take about two years for the economy to return to the levels before COVID-19,” he said. “It will be a long checkmark recovery”.

The most worrying issue is employment, particularly in the service and manufacturing sector, Veerathai said.

Recent weakness in the baht THB=TH has been driven by capital outflows on economic and political concerns, Veerathai said, adding the currency would remain volatile.

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