Thailand’s Tourist Problem
Do the people or the élite run the country. Democracy or Feudalism
The élite, who effectively ARE the Thai government, are just beginning to acknowledge that the nation needs tourism much more than tourists need it. Or, more accurately, that the ordinary Thai needs it. The élite billionaires who control the country will not use their own money to benefit the populace.
The barriers to visiting Thailand
Visitors now have a wide choice of holiday or retirement destinations. Other countries do not put up as many barriers to entering and staying in the country as Thailand does.
They insist on an expensive Covid insurance, usually with a Thai insurance company, with so many exclusion clauses that you will never get paid out. Testing in Thailand, which you also have to pay for, only shows you MAY be Covid positive. It does not mean that you actually have Covid. Insurance companies will not reimburse your costs if there’s no proof you actually need hospitalization. You have not been diagnosed with the virus. The test kits used are also suspect.
As well as being a money-spinner for the insurance companies, the hospitals where you are forced to be quarantined are able to charge higher than normal rates for accommodation. Quarantining brings with it restriction of movement. You may have to spend the larger part of your visit to Thailand in a hotel bedroom.
Because the government has financial interests in many of the insurance companies and hospital, it gains considerably from these rules of entry into the country.
Some tourist figures in perspective
In 2005 11.5 million tourists arrived in Thailand. The number increased over the years, peaking at 39.8 million in 2019. The onset of Covid saw tourist figures drop to around 6.7 million in 2020 but it should be noted that a proportion of that number were expats returning from abroad to be with their Thai families and continue to pursue their business interests in Thailand. Figures for actual tourists are not disclosed.
Xenophobia taking hold because people don’t think for themselves?
Thais have always been patriotic, often to the point of being xenophobic. This dislike of foreigners has accelerated since the start of the Covid epidemic through government propaganda claims that foreigners are bringing Covid into Thailand. Thais are taught not to think about or question anything emanating from any person connected with government. School children, and even university students, are discouraged from criticising or debating constructively anything the teachers and lecturers say. No wonder, then, that xenophobia is taking such a strong hold.Former Prime Minister Thaksin, still very involved behind the scenes in Thai politics, famously said that he welcomed tourists only if they left their money at the airport and then returned. And here is the reality of the Thai government attitude. They want the money but not the people.
The ordinary Thai needs Tourism revenues
The ordinary Thai needs tourist and expat money to survive. The élite COULD use their money, which is after all generated by taxpayers in the country whether Thai or foreigner, to aid their compatriots but do not do so. They do not need to change the regulations because they already have enough personal wealth, and with that comes the power to control the people. It’s the way feudal regimes operate.