The year 2020 has been a stressful year for everyone. The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted almost all industries which begs the question, can the massage industry survive this crisis?
According to the Ministry of Public Health of Thailand, there is an estimate of over 10,000 massage outlets nationwide. This accounts for 530,000 Thais directly employed in the wellness sector, equating to 1.4% of Thailand’s workforce, according to a report made by the Miami-based Global Wellness Institute. No doubt that the massage industry is very important to the country, so how did the government react?
Government’s Measures To The Massage Industry
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Thailand’s government has been vigilant to the gravity of the situation and took drastic measures to ensure the safety of its people. Although there were very few reported cases compared to other countries, the government forced bars, pubs, and massage parlors to be shut. This has put a heavy burden on the wellness sector.
Meanwhile, more than 140,000 massage therapists have applied for unemployment assistance, according to the government. It wasn’t until the month of June that massage spas were allowed to reopen, provided that they keep 1.5 meters social distancing between clients. They also had to guarantee that they only use hygienic equipment to ensure the treatment is healthy and risk-free.
While most massage shops have reopened, some remain closed amid the health and tourism complications. Adapting to the new situation requires investment which some have seen unnecessary and decided to stay closed. They compared the operation cost to the number of customers and have deduced that the investment would not be worth it.
The Decrease In The Number Of Customers
Since mass-tourism is off the table for now, the number of potential clients is decreased for the time being. The government is planning to allow a limited number of tourists, focusing on the rich in a post-pandemic world. This implies that only luxurious spots will gain from the situation while the normalized massage parlors face dwindling revenues.
Moreover, the economic crisis has put a budget constraint on the locals, limiting their expenditure on entertainment such as massage treatments.
Additionally, the concern of safety always hovers over the customer’s head. A lot of people would rather avoid the risk of contracting the virus than to receive a relaxing massage.