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Thailand to see Lunar New Year spending slump after COVID-19 outbreak


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Thailand to see Lunar New Year spending slump after COVID-19 outbreak


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BANGKOK, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Thailand’s consumer spending over the Lunar New Year could drop by more than a fifth to 44.9 billion baht ($1.5 billion) from 2020 after a COVID-19 outbreak hits consumption and activity, the commerce university said on Monday.


The estimated drop from 57.5 billion baht last year would mark the steepest spending fall in the period in 13 years, Thanavath Phonvichai, president of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, told a briefing.


The Lunar New Year celebrations start from Thursday and normally signal a jump in spending by many Thais and visiting tourists from China and other parts of Asia.


“People are spending less because of a bad economy, lower income and COVID,” he said, adding the drop would be the most since the university began its survey.


In Bangkok’s Chinatown, gold sellers were waiting for customers at a time when the precious metal is usually in high demand.


“This year, demand for gold ornaments is weak because of the COVID impact,” Tanarat Pasawongse, chief executive officer of Hua Seng Heng Group, told Reuters.


The new coronavirus outbreak, which emerged in December, has spread to most of Thailand’s provinces, dealing another blow to the tourism-reliant economy.


However, Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy should register annual growth in the June quarter of 2021 due to a low base last year, when the economy contracted 12%, Thanavath sad.


Government stimulus measures, including a recent $7 billion programme, should also support consumption, which accounts for half of the economy, he said.


The economy may grow more than 3% this year if Thailand receives 4-6 million foreign tourists, if not, growth could be less than 2.5%, Thanavath said.



-- © Copyright Reuters 2021-02-08
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