Thailand as a tourism destination has been severely struck. The tourism-reliant destination took a hit from the onset due to the Chinese Government suspending air transportation on January 23. Chinese tourists are the main source market for Thailand, accounting for 43% of arrivals in 2019, according to GlobalData.

Thailand tourism
Chinese tourists are the main source market for Thailand, accounting for 43% of arrivals in 2019. Credit: GlobalData.

From the suspension of airlines, to the closures of hotels and attractions, to now the economic impact of Covid-19 affecting animals and sanctuaries in Thailand. It has become obvious that the tourism machine in Thailand relies on all the cogs to be in working order for it to be a success.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) predicted a revenue loss of $3.05bn from fewer Chinese tourists from January to April. It is probable that this number could rise higher as tighter travel restrictions are implemented, meaning travellers from other countries are now staying put. The decline has been swift and sharp.

The graph shows historic and forecast international arrivals in Thailand between 2015 and 2023. The forecast figures are subject to change as the implications associated with Covid-19 are causing international arrivals to rapidly decrease.

Due to drastic decreases in tourism numbers, caretakers are struggling to feed many elephants in sanctuaries within Thailand. The reduction in tourism numbers creates a huge economic loss for many industries in the Thai tourism sector. The fact that the wildlife, a major attraction in Thailand, cannot be fed illustrates the ripple effect that Covid-19 is creating.

The government and TAT must work with sanctuaries to ensure helpless animals are fed. This can be done by providing bailouts so sanctuaries can operate. Elephant sanctuaries are considered a key tourist attraction in Thailand and attract thousands of tourists every year. It is in the Thai Government’s interest to assist these sanctuaries. The government and tourism authorities must liaise in order to proactively manage this situation.

There are other ways in which the elephant sanctuaries can be saved. Promotions can be set up to encourage worldwide donations and persuade other charities to assist. The Elephant Asia Rescue and Survival (EARS) foundation has set up a foundation to help provide provisions and care for elephants at risk. This charity should be heavily promoted. Thailand’s destination marketing organisation (TAT) can also promote this to reach overseas markets.