In the wake of Thailand’s May 14 general election, many Malaysian entrepreneurs have adopted a cautious, wait-and-see stance regarding potential shifts in government policy. This observation comes from Sitthiphong Sitthiphatprapha, President of the Hat Yai Songkhla Hotels Association.
The Sadao border checkpoint, located in Thailand’s southern province of Songkhla, has reportedly experienced a downturn in border trade as well as a drop in the number of Malaysian tourists according to Sitthiphong. This decline seems largely connected to uncertainty surrounding Thailand’s new government and its potential impact on bilateral border trade.
In a recent statement made on Thursday, Sitthiphong mentioned that the Malaysian businesspeople he had spoken with are eager to see what changes Thailand’s new government will implement, particularly relating to policies surrounding border trade. They are specifically interested in more clarity regarding the proposed tourist tax. Furthermore, these Malaysian entrepreneurs are also awaiting clear-cut Thai policies on tourism and economic development.
As a business owner operating in Songkhla’s Sadao district, Sitthiphong has firsthand experience with the current slowdown in border trade between Thailand and Malaysia, resulting from the Thai national vote. In comparison to April, during which time Malaysian tourist arrivals peaked at 10,000 per day on weekends, this number has now dwindled to around 5,000.
Sitthiphong additionally attributes the decline in Malaysian visitors to Thailand to factors such as a depreciating Malaysian ringgit and the conclusion of the long school vacation period. Nevertheless, with the results of Thailand’s general election ushering in potential policy reforms, it remains to be seen how the relationship between the two nations and their border trade evolves in the coming months.
For now, Malaysian businesspeople are watching closely and patiently waiting for any updates that may emerge from Thailand’s newly formed government. What the future holds regarding border trade, tourism, and economic development between the two countries is yet to be determined but could greatly impact the region’s entrepreneurs, residents, and visitors alike.