Thailand’s Khao San Road now full with hundreds of homeless locals amid Covid-19 recession

Heartbreaking footage shows hundreds of homeless locals sleeping rough near Thailand’s once-bustling backpacker district.

The video was recorded on Wednesday, January 5 next to the Khao San Road which has been unusually quiet since Covid-19 travel bans were introduced in March 2020.

Thousands of tourists would once visit the street every day for round-the-clock partying on their travels, providing a source of income for natives who sold food, trinkets, worked in bars or drove tuk-tuks catering for the visitors.

Now many of them have been left out of work and struggling to survive, sleeping on the streets while waiting for food, despite holidaymakers trickling back into the country since November last year.

Officials estimate that there are around 2,700 homeless people in the country but some institutions including the World Bank Statistics suggests that there was a large undercount especially when the economy hit a downturn during the pandemic.

Ministers have rolled out vaccines across the country and from November 1 last year, they relaxed travel restrictions to allow fully-vaccinated travellers to enter the country with just one day of quarantine while awaiting the results of a PCR test. The scheme was later reversed on December 24 following the emergence of the Omicron variant.

Economists have warned that it could still be 2026 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.