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Virus crisis will ease after Songkran: Tourism minister

The Covid-19 corona virus crisis is expected to subside in the second half of the year or earlier, Tourism and Sports Minister Pipat Ratchakitprakan said on Sunday.

Mr Pipat spoke at a hotel in Khuan Khanun district of this southern province, where he presided over a ceremony to hand over honorary certificates to people who passed a training course for volunteer leaders in sports and exercise.

He said coronavirus has had a serious impact on Thailand. In 2019, Thailand was visited by 38.9 million tourists, with revenue from tourism constituting 18% of gross domestic product (GDP). Before the outbreak of Covid-19, Thailand’s revenue from tourism was expected to contribute at least 20% of GDP in 2020.

Since the epidemic began spreading around the world, Thailand has gained a reputation for effective screening for the virus, he said, building up confidence amoung tourists. Thailand’s public health system has won widespread recognition for this.

“Although the virus has caused damage to the tourism industry in the first half of the year, I am confident the situation will return to normal in the second half or after the Songkran Festival, when China will likely produce a vaccine against it,” Mr Pipat said.

He added that with the onset of summer, Covid-19 will not be able to withstand the heat and the situation in many countries — including Thailand — will improve.

The government is preparing to introduce financial measures to help those affected — be they in the hotel, restaurant, trade or tourism businesses, Mr Pipat added.

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