Top officials of hotel chains in Thailand are asking the government for immediate help, saying that businesses like their own are suffering significant losses whether they may be big or small as a result of the pandemic.
Thailand, whose economy is heavily reliant on tourism, remains one of the countries with the lowest number of cases of COVID-19. As of today, there are only 3,880 COVID-19 cases with only 60 deaths resulting from the infections in the country.
However, the government is very risk-averse and are not opening the country real soon to foreign tourism. Despite stimulus packages to spur domestic tourism, the relaxations of the tourist visa to allow foreigners from medium risk countries and the Special Tourist Visa itself, revenues are not flowing equally among the participants in the industry.
As a result, several businesses are suffering significantly from the pandemic and seeking assistance from the Royal Thai Government.
Dusit Thani CEO Suphajee Suthumpun said that hotels, big or small, are going to suffer more losses without foreign tourism. Everyone needs help during these times, but businesses in the tourism sector are not able to access loans from the government because financial institutions are reluctant to grant them help due to the risks.
Because of this, Ms. Suphajee is asking the government to put forth more measures to give tourism-related businesses the aid that they need in order to survive. One condition, she said, is to make the Thai Credit Guarantee Corporation to guarantee the loans that small-and-medium enterprises are applying for.
“We also want to ask the central bank to ease rules related to debentures as many large enterprises’ debentures are nearing maturity,” she added.
Ms. Suphajee also called on Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn to put forward the suggestions to create a tourism recovery fund from which hotel operators like her group of companies could borrow from.
All they would need to do is pledge their assets or properties as collateral for the loan.
She also urged the government to formulate an “e-visa system” that will expedite the reopening of the country to foreign tourism. This should be possible as reports indicate that a vaccine for the COVID-19 should be ready by early next year.
US-based pharma companies Moderna and Pfizer have recently announced that they are seeing more than 90% effectiveness in their experimental messenger RNA vaccines and are applying for emergency use approval from the US Food and Drug Administration.
German firm BioNTech, who develops a vaccine jointly with Pfizer, said that they would be ready to ship millions of doses by end of this year if they receive approval.
Approval of emergency use means that either company will be given the green light to produce the vaccine and distribute it worldwide, a move that FDA advisors are cautioning against as it would accelerate the process and not enable authorities to fully determine just how effective the vaccine is.
Messenger RNA vaccines stimulate the immune system to recognize the COVID-19 virus and create resistance, without injecting damaged bits of the actual virus into the recipient’s bloodstream.