Covid Killing The Thailand We Knew
With the current paranoia there cannot ever be an end to the restrictions. The media and the politicians have continuously, as in many times every single day for nine months, told us that COVID is the devil incarnate and here to wipe out the entire human race. And that only through severe restrictions on normal human social behaviour plus at least two jabs for everyone on the planet will we be rid of it.
In the FT today: “Johnson & Johnson vaccine shows 66% efficacy for moderate and severe Covid-19“.
That is not going to solve anything, and will possibly make it worse, as unless the virus can be killed 100% the vaccine resistant mutants will be alive and looking for more noses.
The TAT are also almost daily coming out with, “We forecast 8 million tourists in this year”. This is never going to happen. Even with about one case in two weeks Chonburi is red-zoned, with orange zoning coming on Monday, so we can all have a socially distanced beer over a meal until closing time at 11:00 PM.
I believe there are about 40 quarantine hotels in Thailand. Let’s say each can handle 100 isolated tourists, a maximum of 8,000 two-week stays per month. A long way off the 1,000,000 plus per month that the TAT wants us to look forward to!
There are 150,000 rooms in Pattaya, so we could estimate roughly 250,000 tourists if they are full. There is absolutely no way that they could all be effectively screened for COVID. Imagine if just one hotel had a “COVID cluster bomb” explode. Would the government immediately impose a red-zone level lockdown with no alcohol in restaurants which have to close at 9:00 PM, all massage shops, bars, shopping centres immediately closed, no travel in and out of the province and COVID tests all around?
And then somehow all these tourists have to get back home, and presumably straight into testing and quarantine?!
That is effectively where we are currently at with this shit. And I cannot see it being relaxed for years. The planet has been fed too much fear and TPTB are not going to ring some global bell and say, “It’s all over, we survived. Come out and make merry”. They are still moving in the opposite direction, tightening the screws.
I think that governments will focus entirely on the domestic economies and domestic tourism. Indeed, the peeps in, say, the UK, will be over the moon if they can just get out and have a beer in a pub. As indeed will the Thais. For most countries, a rise in domestic tourism and domestic spending will mitigate the loss of foreign tourist income.
Thailand will, unfortunately, be one of the worst hit countries. I could write a very pessimistic article on the Thai economy, with 30% based on inefficient and internationally uncompetitive farming and 15 – 20% dependent on foreign tourist $$$. Add in the military dictatorship answering to a despot, and an under-educated aging population, making the country very unattractive as a destination for inward investment.
Prayuth has just authorised 130,000,000 baht to be spent on subduing the call for democracy. This cannot in anyway be compared to China, where the government is run by a team of highly-educated, professional technocrats with a long-term view over multiple decades if not centuries to put China at the top of technological and modern economies.
Thailand is heading back 90 years with the majority of Thais working as serfs for the rich.
Sigh, the Thais simply do not deserve to be treated like this.
Well, that’s all maybe a little over the top. Or is it? I dunno.
As to me and being able to afford my lifestyle, some people might say I was lucky, but I don’t see it like that. I started a business delivering evening newspapers when I was 13, buying directly from the publisher. By the time I went to university I had two “employees”. That taught me about basic business operations, cash-flow, balancing the books, paying bills and wages, although I didn’t look at it that way until later. After 35 years of cautious investments in the stock market, re-investing the tax-free dividends the capital has snowballed.
That was the building capital side of things.
The other necessary ingredient is delayed gratification. I never buy anything on impulse or credit. Cash only. For years I keep daily records on Excel of spending, every night or at the latest the next morning, checking what’s in the wallet against what I spent. Long term habits are hard to break.
This may be extreme, but money is easy to spend and damn hard to accumulate for most people, me included.
Today 300 baht for the hotel, two beers 94 baht, and two meals 180 baht. Less than 600 baht. That’s affordable….
To be honest, I can’t get excited over a short-time bonk off Beach Road. Maybe 20 years ago, but now I need a bit more “connection” than interrupting a bored looking hooker on her phone. The beer bars were much better at putting me in the mood.
That saves a good few baht……
Drinking out of a coffee cup in a darkened bar? Nope, here in Pattaya that is simply not possible, unlike the “voting” days in the past. The bars are firmly shuttered with the lights out. Many have popular new names, such as, “Bar For sale”, “Bar For Sell”, and “Bar For Rent”. Doubtless there are a few places selling beer, but certainly not evident in Central Pattaya.
Things have become very gloomy and the outlook feels much, much worse than it was as recently as just a week or two before Christmas.
On the ground in Thailand, the latest bar shutdown has sent more bars to the graveyard. I am hearing from more and more people that so many bars are on the brink that it feels like the entire industry is about to collapse.
The problem is that many bar owners have burned through their cash reserves. It’s not just that they don’t have the money to keep the bar going, it’s that they don’t have enough money for their own everyday living / to support their family. I hear of some forced to cash in investments and sell off assets. Some have already thrown in the towel, left Thailand and returned to their homeland. No-one could foresee this and few thought they would need a year or two’s worth of money set aside in case of an emergency.
The virus is raging out of control and the vaccine mightn’t be the solution we were all hoping for. Countries are fighting over who should be delivered supplies of the vaccine first. Some countries have high numbers of people who refuse to be vaccinated. There are concerns over whether the vaccines will be effective long-term and concern that the virus will mutate to an extent that it renders current vaccines useless. All we need now is some anti-vaxxer nut-job groups to do something really crazy like infiltrate a vaccine factory and mess the vaccine up or perhaps even try and torch a vaccine factory. In today’s crazy world, nothing would be a surprise!
What you say about countries pivoting to a more domestic based economic model, particularly when it comes to tourism, rings true. That’s exactly what is happening here in New Zealand, and I imagine it is happening all over the world.
The outlook has changed over the past several weeks and it’s not easy to be optimistic about Thailand’s immediate future. Many people are out of work, the tourism industry has been smashed and the bar industry might just be on the verge of collapse.
At this point in time it is all bad news. When will things turn around?
The author of this article cannot be contacted.