BANGKOK (REUTERS) - Thailand could see a million more jobless tourism workers in the first quarter after its latest wave of coronavirus infections, while relief measures are urgently needed to support the struggling sector, a private tourism group said on Tuesday (Jan 26).
The Tourism Council of Thailand will, later on Tuesday, propose to the government measures including a 50 per cent co-pay scheme to retain workers, utility bill cuts, soft loans and a two-year debt moratorium, said its president, Mr Chamnan Srisawat.
The proposed co-pay scheme will help some 800,000 people keep their jobs, he told a briefing.
"We don't want to leave these people. When Covid-19 is over, tourists will definitely return, so please help us survive for a while, maybe for three months," Mr Chamnan said.
More than one million people have already lost their jobs and the number could double to two million in the first quarter due to the new spread, he said.
The latest outbreak has seen its overall cases more than triple in the past six weeks, reaching 63 of the country's 77 provinces.
Tourism should recover in the second half of 2021 and foreign visitor numbers could reach 10 million this year if the government removes a two-week quarantine for those tourists inoculated against Covid-19, said Mr Vichit Prakobgosol, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA).
"If tourists can return with no quarantine, we will definitely see 10 million this year. If not, even if we let them in free of charge, nobody will come," he said.
The group will wait two months to gauge vaccinations globally before asking the government to adjust the quarantine requirement, Mr Vichit said.
The state planning agency predicts five million foreign arrivals this year after the number slumped 83 per cent to 6.7 million in 2020 due to the impact of the global pandemic and Thailand's ban on foreign tourists and international commercial flights.