The year 2021 will be disastrous for tourism industry


Anita Mathur

At the beginning of 2020, a major Thai fortune teller predicted that 2020 was the year of the god Ganesh [god of fortune] who would bring economic prosperity and happiness to Thailand. I think he meant the god Covid who brought economic disaster to all Thais as well to the global community. The same fortune-teller also warned that student protesters would burn down Thammasat University to ashes and trigger the worst bloody coup d’etat in history. The university remains unscathed and, so far, there has been no coup d’etat of any kind. Thais are at least living a peaceful life, which is free from unwarranted political chaos.

The upcoming new year will be bringing no or very little good news for the aviation industry. Looking into the slow recovery of the global economy as well as administrative problems with Covid-19 vaccinations, where, the vaccination process may not even end by mid-2022. All these points to much less air travel for both leisure and business next year and beyond. For safety reasons, most airlines will require “approved and valid” Covid vaccination certificates before passengers board any plane. A small percentage of would-be passengers will have that in 2021. Moreover, Thailand in reality is closed for the tourists, who may not hear any good news at least within 2021, meaning the country’s tourism industry will continue to endure financial loss. A similar fate awaits those nations who either have closed their sky to foreigners or have introduced extremely difficult procedures, which may ultimately discourage the tourists in choosing that country as their next tourism destination. In fact, following the upcoming acute economic challenges worldwide, most possibly the tourism industry will not be able to see any sunrise – at least within the next couple of years.

And under such a huge challenging situation, what may happen to Thai Airways? According to freelance economist, Chartchai Parasuk, “All airlines, not just THAI, will suffer another year of low patronage, huge financial losses, and severe cash shortages. The problem is THAI has no government or commercial banks to provide financial support and, most likely, cannot survive another year of almost zero income. With no revenue, Thai Airways will need 3-5 billion baht a month for operating costs such as salary and aeroplane parking space rent. Operating costs will double or triple once the airline resumes its normal business. Therefore, hefty working capital of 10 billion baht is required. Where will the money come from? I doubt that selling aircraft like the company is doing now is the solution, especially when the whole airline industry has no demand for more aeroplanes. To make matter worse, starting next July, THAI has to begin paying compensation to 5,000 volunteer departed employees.”

Commenting on the fate of the tourism industry, Mr. Parasuk said, “Half of the tourism industry will go bankrupt in 2021 and will not fully recover for at least five years. The second half of the sentence is important. It reads that if you are in the tourism business, it is wiser to close the business now rather than wait five years for the industry to fully achieve the 2019 income level. Close the business today to avoid further operating losses and save your precious cash.

“I know this is not much of a prediction as it is a well-known fact. The situation is no different to the airline industry. Thai Airways knows that it is most likely to lose half of its customers in the future. So, it is selling half of its fleet and letting go half of its staff. Those of you in the tourism industry need to think similarly.”

The year 2021 will witness gold prices skyrocketing. One of the key reasons is the Biden administration will be supportive of pumping more dollars into the economy, particularly on social programs and unemployment benefits. This will weaken the dollar while pushing up world gold prices.

And what fate waits for India, a country that is significantly dependent on the tourism industry? India’s battle against Covid-19 will not be over even in the next couple of years. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his team of hallucinating people were almost certain of driving-away the Covid-19 monster with drums, percussion, and firecrackers. During the early days of the pandemic, when the entire world was looking into scientific methods of containing the pace of social transmission, Indians were busy buying firecrackers being illusioned by the ‘holy forecast’ of their ‘adoring’ leader.

Firecrackers, drums, and percussion could not liberate Indians from Covid-19, but it has at least welcomed another monster – poverty and economic depression, which will continue to widen its unholy presence in the country. Economists are competing in predicting how quickly India can recover from the post-Covid economic depression. Everyone is coming up with a figure. But in my opinion – or say my prophecy – the largest democracy in the world will need at least five years to finally recover from the devastations caused by Covid-19. And within that five years, a number of neighboring nations of India will emerge as economic powers or strong economies.


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