"Thailand’s economic losses from the lockdown are estimated to be at 16 billion baht per day or almost 500 billion per month ... A longer lockdown will cost us more and more." — Dhanin Chearavanont, Senior Chairman of Charoen Pokphand group
Billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont is urging the government to relax lockdown measures and welcome foreign travellers as soon as possible, and turn the country into a "safe haven" for wealthy visitors.
Mr Dhanin, who is the senior chairman of the kingdom's largest food and agriculture company Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group, said the move would help revive the tourism sector.
"Thailand's economic losses from the lockdown are estimated to be at 16 billion baht per day or almost 500 billion per month," he told the Bangkok Post. "A longer lockdown will cost us more and more."
Thailand has been under lockdown since March 9 after the government tried to control Covid-19 cases. The government said the coronavirus infection rate is now about 1%.
Millions of workers applied for unemployment benefits. The tourism sector is also hit hard after the kingdom stopped allowing in foreign visitors.
"We can't wait until a vaccine is developed and produced in sufficient quantity to roll out to the entire population," Mr Dhanin said. "The economy won't survive that long."
Mr Dhanin proposed the government attract high-spending tourists from across the world by highlighting Thailand's success in containing the spread of Covid-19.
Mr Dhanin topped Forbes magazine's "Thailand's 50 Richest" this year. He is among 20 moguls in the kingdom whom Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha asked to develop relief projects to help people affected by the outbreak.
He said now is the time for Thailand to shift its tourism image from "quantity to quality".
The tycoon said he is aware some people may disagree with the idea because they don't want foreign tourists entering the country amid the outbreak, but Thailand should take the risk.
He said he has written to Gen Prayut in response to the prime minister's request for help. CP will spend over 700 million baht to fund projects to help poor people.