Thousands of taxis were seen rusting in a junkyard in Bangkok today as the third wave of the Covid-19 continues spreading through the country. More than 2,000 vehicles were crammed into the unkempt lot due to the pandemic’s crippling effect on the Thailand tourism industry, which has been reduced to almost zero since March last year. Drivers who were once able to make around 2,000 baht (45 GBP) a day have been left out-of-work as the number of holidaymakers – and reduced spending power of locals – have hit the taxi industry. Naruemon Rassameejirawilai, manager of Baworn Taxi Cooperative and Rajpruek Taxi Cooperative, said: ‘The third wave of the pandemic has hit us hard. Previously, there were 3,000 taxis from the two cooperatives were on services. But due to the pandemic, more than 2,000 taxis have been parked not doing anyting. ‘Even though we reduced the taxi rental cost to 500 baht from 1,000 baht per day. No one wants to drive for us. ‘The cooperatives now have no revenue flow, but at that same time have to pay rental cost of some 2,000 taxis and other costs, altogether around nine million baht per month. If the situation like this prolongs further, we cannot survive until the end of the year.’ Economists said that it could be another five years before the country’s tourism industry returns to pre-pandemic levels. Two years ago tourism made up an estimated 21 per cent of Thailand’s GDP, generating 1.8 trillion baht in revenue. However, the country’s National Economic and Social Development Council predicted that it could be another five years before similar numbers are seen. Analysts said that between now and 2026, around seven million workers will continue to be affected by the economic harm from the Covid-19 pandemic. Witoon Naewpanich, president of the Thai Taxi Network Trade Association said: ‘The number of taxis started decreasing since the first wave of the pandemic until today, compared with that of 2019 which we have over 110,000 taxis in our system. But there were only 80,000 taxis left in 2021. Of them, only 30,000 taxis are on service while over 50,000 were unoccupied.’ Thailand has recorded 236,291 Covid-19 cases and 1,819 as of June 25.
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