Picture: Igor Ovsyannykov
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Thailand had been among the first-struck countries outside of China, putting it at the forefront of the battle against the virus. An early lockdown and travel ban meant that much of the country’s tourism industry had to be shut down as a result – but with a new strategy, this may come to be turned around soon.
Thailand is known to be heavily reliant on its tourism industry, with just about 15% of its economy being entirely reliant on this industry. Since it had implemented lockdown and tightened its quarantine restrictions, it was highly successful in slowing down the spread of the virus, and as such quell the number of deaths compared to other countries, but economically things were looking rather bad for Thailand.
Hence the formation of the new strategy by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). The strategy is known as ‘SEXY’, and is meant to jumpstart the Thai tourism industry into a gradual recovery. This strategy, of course, is to be implemented in a manner that assists in the recovery of Thai tourism only following the COVID-19 pandemic, and in now way before. Thailand had been very serious in its quest to treat the virus, and the ‘SEXY’ strategy accommodates for this.
‘SEXY’ is an acronym, and it details the exact steps and order of the plan and all that it will include. The acronym stands for the following:S – Safety and hygiene
What the strategy acknowledges is that following the pandemic, a primary focus for the tourism industry in Thailand should be safety and cleanliness in all regards, promising a campaign that puts environmental importance into its considerations, offers something new in terms of experiences and targets wealthier, higher-paying tourists with its attractions.
The targeting of wealthier tourists is a means of maximising profits whilst lowering the rates of travel – and therefore of potential hygienic risks. It was a strategy that was recognised as necessary for Thailand’s economic recovery even before the formation of the ‘SEXY’ strategy, and will need to be put to practice for some years following the pandemic in order to revitalise the tourism industry.
“This will help restore travellers’ confidence, while driving recovery for both the Thai economy and the tourism industry to make a comeback stronger than ever,” said Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of TAT who stressed the importance of the four goals described under ‘SEXY’ for recovery. “Together, TAT and Thai tourism stakeholders will reshape the image of Thailand with core messages highlighting the importance of safe and sustainable travel.”
Thus far, Thailand is among the countries coping with the virus the best, and this isn’t likely to change. With the number of infected people kept low and under control, it may even end up among the first countries in Asia to completely eradicate the virus. Its economic slump, however, will take longer to recover from. Such strategies as ‘SEXY’ may serve to speed up this process, and eventually revitalise Thailand as a hub of tourism.
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