In the smashed hotels, guest houses and tourist hangouts along the coast of Thailand, rebuilding work has started as the owners calculate if they can survive financially. In Phuket over 500 beachside hotels and restaurants were damaged.
In the short term there is work for builders, but for thousands of service industry employees, like maids and waiters, the outlook is grim. Restaurant owner Hans Tiunigero said he has few customers, but he feels loyalty to his staff: “Now there is only about 12% of our normal number of customers, so we have a big staff problem, because I like to keep my staff, who’ve worked many years for me.” The owners say they will pay their workers as long as they can. The Thai government is offering financial help for rebuilding homes, but very little money is being given for business reconstruction and foreign owned businesses have to pay everything themselves. At the Patong Garden Resort, manager Rachin Thongnakaul said the reconstruction will cost up to 400,000 euros. He added: “I am happy that reconstruction is taking place, but I just hope that the construction companies and the insurance companies will be generous to people about payment.” Thailand’s tourism ministry has said that around 200,000 jobs would be at risk in the industry and that overseas tourism arrivals could fall by as much as two million over the next few months. Twelve million people visited Thailand last year and tourism accounts for 6% of the country’s economy.