Thailand: Domestic subsidy to be reduced

The subsidy scheme for domestic tourists might be reduced to 500,000 rooms from 1.5 million after the cabinet this week cut the proposed budget of 8.7 billion baht by half, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the majority of the revised budget worth 4 billion baht will be allocated to tourism stimulus packages, with the TAT working directly with the private sector.

The “We Travel Together” hotel subsidy might have a lower budget, with the number of privileges cut to 400,000-500,000 rooms, he said.

The proposal worth a combined 8.7 billion baht that was submitted to the cabinet on Tuesday saw the lion’s share worth 5.4 billion baht allotted for the new phase of We Travel Together.

However, the Tourism and Sports Ministry requested a new direction for the revised budget as it wants to prioritise marketing stimulus packages formerly known as “Booster Shots”.

Mr Yuthasak said the subsidy campaign for travellers will use a budget of around 3,600 baht per room, while airfare refunds will be dropped from this phase.

The TAT has to submit the new proposal to the Budget Bureau for consideration this week.

If the number of rooms is capped at 500,000, this phase will use 1.8 billion baht, while the remainder will go to Booster Shots projects, he said.

The cabinet is scheduled to consider the new proposal next week, while the duration of the subsidy lasts for six months, starting next year.

Phunut Thanalaopanich, president of the northern chapter of the Thai Hotels Association, said the We Travel Together scheme deserves a new phase.

However, 500,000 rooms is too low for the scheme, as Mr Phunut suggested a minimum of 1 million.

He said the Booster Shot marketing promotions should be allocated to international markets to entice more foreign tourists to every city across Thailand.

Mr Phunut said if the two projects are approved for next year, tourism operators are confident about being better prepared to accommodate both Thai and foreign tourists.

Suthiphong Pheunphiphop, vice-president of the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT), said the new subsidy budget should benefit every party in the entire supply chain, not only hotels.

He said part of the budget should be earmarked for various tourism associations under the TCT, such as transport operators, including tour buses and boats, as well as tour agents.

Conditions for participation should also be effortless, in terms of applications and refunds, said Mr Suthiphong.

He said the TCT could help filter qualified tourism firms to received marketing support.