Hospitality and travel shares soar on reopening plans

(Tourism Authority of Thailand photo)

Shares in Thailand's hotels and airlines jumped in Tuesday morning's trading, lifted by an announcement by the prime minister that more vaccinated tourists would be allowed to visit the country from November.

Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha late on Monday said more than 18 months of mandatory quarantine would end next month for vaccinated arrivals from countries considered "low risk", including the United States, Britain and China.

The stock exchange's tourism and leisure index jumped as much as 4.42% when markets opened on Tuesday, compared to a benchmark increase of 0.82%.

Gains were driven by a 4% rise in Airports of Thailand Plc , Asia Aviation Plc and Bangkok Airlines Plc , which rose 5.59% and 3.42%, respectively.

Hotelier Erawan Group Plc increased nearly 7% and rival Asset World Corp climbed over 4%.

The government’s strict entry requirements had kept Covid-19 infection numbers low until this year, but at a huge loss to jobs and revenues in its vital tourism sector.

Since July, it has operated pilot projects on Samui and Phuket islands allowing for vaccinated visitors and this month reduced quarantine periods elsewhere.

But arrivals have plummeted to a fraction of the nearly 40 million visitors in 2019, with tourism losing $50 billion in annual revenue, an 82% plunge.

Despite its stringent measures to keep the virus out, the country has recorded 1.7 million infections and 17,835 Covid-19 deaths, with 98% of its caseload since April.

A third of the country’s 72 million residents are vaccinated.

The announcement follows Britain's removal of Thailand from its travel red list last week.

Analysts said that although foreign arrivals may not increase quickly, domestic activity would be boosted.

"A reopening would mean that full mobility is restored ... we are much optimistic on the domestic travel and consumption," said Maria Lapiz, head of institutional research at Maybank Kim Eng. 

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