Thailand: Added local travel perks shaping up
The Finance Ministry is poised to launch a fresh package to encourage domestic travel on weekdays, aiming to boost the country’s GDP by 0.2-0.3 percentage points.
The Fiscal Policy Office (FPO) is sorting out measures to prod people to travel more on weekdays to comply with Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak’s policy to add value to the domestic tourism stimulus package focused on encouraging people to travel on weekends, said director-general Lavaron Sangsnit.
“We’re thinking about how to make people travel on both weekends and weekdays,” he said. “The measures must be proposed to policymakers first.”
Last month, the cabinet approved two stimulus packages worth 22.4 billion baht to boost domestic tourism. The promotions are valid until Oct 31. Hotel operators can register from July 1, while the public can register on July 15 at the We Travel Together website.
Under the We Travel Together promotion worth 20 billion baht, the government will subsidise 40% of domestic airfares for up to 1,000 baht per seat and 40% of hotel room rates for up to 3,000 baht per night.
The Moral Support promotion, worth 2.4 billion baht, will help fund holidays for 1.2 million health officials and volunteers.
Thailand’s economy is expected to perform the worst in Southeast Asia this year, given the country’s heavy reliance on tourism and exports. The Bank of Thailand last month reduced its forecast for the country’s 2020 economic contraction to 8.1%, representing a record slump, from a 5.3% decline predicted earlier.
The economy shrank 1.8% in the first quarter from a year earlier, the deepest contraction since the fourth quarter of 2011, when the worst flooding in decades hit output.
To encourage more tourism-related businesses, particularly those that have not signed up as operators to participate in the stimulus measures, the Finance and Tourism and Sports ministries are considering how to allow unregistered operators to participate in the scheme, Mr Lavaron said.
Unregistered operators include those whose licence applications are pending approval and those that lack operating licences, such as boutique hotels.
Should the domestic-boosting tourism measures receive a good response from the public, the measure’s deadline will be extended. The entirety of the 15-billion-baht budget for hotel room subsidies is unlikely to be used up, since some participants will baulk at a room rate of 7,500 baht.
To get the ceiling 3,000-baht subsidy, travellers must stay in a room that costs 7,500 baht a night.
The imminent tourism stimulus measures will trigger spending across the country, which is more important than giving GDP a boost, Mr Lavaron said.
Commenting on Mr Somkid’s policy to stimulate high-income earners’ spending, Mr Lavaron said the FPO will consider the overall economic picture after the lockdown is eased before making a decision, as consumption will bounce back after economic activity returns to normal.