President of Skål International Bangkok: An alternative to compulsory quarantine needed

I am very optimistic for our industry and the future of SKÅL International’s role as a leader in both the business and friendship of hospitality

Dear MEMBERS and Friends of SKÅLBKK

I am very grateful for the opportunity to reach out to you today. 

I have wanted to let all our members know that we are all aware of the terrible times you are living through. To also let you know you are not alone. I have wanted to say this for many weeks however with the introduction last month of restrictions on meetings (quite correctly) to help reduce infections from the Samut Sakhon cluster it was not possible face-to-face. 

Thankfully the restrictions appear to be working and restrictions will start to be lifted soon.

Daily new infections in Bangkok appear to be subsiding, but Thailand and the world  continues to face significant challenges. As an industry, we have experienced historically low occupancy rates, job losses and business closures.

I firmly believe the industry needs an alternative to compulsory quarantine. As long as quarantine of any kind exists for overseas visitors our industry will not start to recover. However, testing and vaccination maybe the answer to help get borders open. 

Recovery will happen albeit slowly. The industry in addition is also crying out for financial help from the government to survive. 

For our future success we must be able to retain and rehire our associates, revive local travel businesses and restart our economy. 

While the vaccine rollout has yet to begin, it will likely take months to widely distribute, and travel is not expected to return until vaccinations commence. 

The tourism industry has ground to a halt. Safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines mean that life, including travel, are likely to get back to normal one day.

Not all businesses have been forced to close-down but widespread financial uncertainty means the tourism industry has struggled over the last year. It is grim, however I think even if we get a small fraction of the 39 million tourists of 2019 we can survive and prosper.

The short term goal is survival and then to start to thrive in the ‘new world’ of tourism. Getting back ALL that was lost is not realistic or achievable nor should it be a goal. 

From the entire board, we want to say that you are very much on our minds. It’s at times like this that being a SKÅL member is important. Times of crisis should not result in the isolation and the disengagement of industry colleagues. Here in Bangkok, the supportive environment offered by SKÅL has become even more relevant in these difficult times. I am very optimistic for our industry and the future of SKÅL International’s role as a leader in both the business and friendship of hospitality. Together we are stronger!

Andrew J Wood
Skål International Bangkok