The latest wave of the COVID-19 pandemic may take longer to ease as compared to the two previous waves because the number of daily cases is substantially higher and most people have been infected by the fast-spreading variant. This is likely to delay the government's efforts in re-opening the country to international tourists once more, following the postponement of such plans due to the previous wave of COVID-19 towards the end of 2020. Meanwhile, the availability of COVID-19 vaccines in Thailand is limited as inoculations to be given to Thais are scheduled to arrive during 2H21.
Additionally, although Thailand has been able to contain the disease relatively well, the effort ahead may rest with the COVID-19 pandemic abroad, policies of other countries in promoting international travel and most importantly Thailand's economic activity and consumer purchasing power, which could deteriorate further if the COVID-19 pandemic persists. The pandemic abroad may also hurt several segments of Thailand's international tourists.
It is highly likely that the government will accelerate its vaccination drive in key tourist attractions, such as Phuket, in order to be able to welcome more foreign holidaymakers as planned. However, as various incidents have changed and the tourism industry is reeling from the above-mentioned challenges, it is expected that the number of international tourist arrivals in Thailand during 2021 will be lower than our prior estimate. KResearch has, therefore, slashed our forecast for the number of international tourist arrivals in Thailand during 2021 to approximately 250,000- 1.2 million, against the roughly 2 million projected in March 2021. Looking ahead, the status of Thai tourism will depend on the concerted efforts of many parties and stringent COVID-19 prevention standards in order to reduce the risk of another pandemic, which could otherwise hurt the competitiveness and marketing opportunities of travel-related business during the remainder of 2021.