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Thailand sees gradual tourism recovery

Tourists are returning to Thailand almost a month after the country reopened its borders.Vaccinated travellers from more than 60 countries can now visit one of Asia’s most popular destinations without having to quarantine.The signs of recovery are clear along Bangkok’s tourist haven the Khaosan Road. But it’s still not close to the heaving number of tourists the area saw pre-health crisis.Some restrictions are still in place, too – alcohol can only be sold at restaurants until 9pm in Bangkok.Markus is a visitor from Germany.”Just not so many tourists, just not so many people. OK, night club not open, this (is) what I want to see, this is not good for me, but many good things too. Because don’t have to (be) waiting somewhere, have everywhere discount, don’t have so many people, (it’s) good yeah. So it’s a good time to come back to Thailand again.”Tourism plays a huge role in the Thai economy.Bangkok was the world’s most-visited city for four years straight before the health crisis.40 million people visited the country in 2019 and spent $57 billion.But Thailand only saw around 106,000 foreign visitors in the first ten months of this year.Hotel operator Wallapa Traisorat says business is improving, but still slow: “At the moment, our occupancy rate is more than 20 per cent, two times higher than the third quarter during the pandemic. I hope that we will see it reach 30 per cent occupancy in the fourth quarter as we are starting to gain better momentum since the country reopened.”Thailand has faith that travellers will return in the near future.Authorities predict 5 million will visit in 2022 to help fill up the Khaosan Road’s once bustling bars and restaurants.