Thailand: TAT prepares new phase of subsidies

The new phase of the domestic tourism subsidy programme is being drafted with an additional 3-4 million hotel rooms, double the number in the fourth phase, which is scheduled to end this month, as the government aims to push GDP growth to 3.3% this year.

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the upcoming fifth phase of “We Travel Together” will continue to offer a 40% subsidy on hotel rooms to domestic tourists, along with a voucher worth 600 baht per night for food and shopping.

However, airfare subsidies, included in previous phases, are discontinued in the new phase as there were almost 122,000 privileges for airfares remaining in the current phase.

The package tour subsidy programme named “Tour Teaw Thai”, which received lukewarm feedback from travellers, will be scrapped, he said.

As of Oct 19, the current phase of the tour stimulus had 130,624 packages sold and 69,376 remaining privileges, unlike We Travel Together, which tallied 1.5 million rooms booked since early September.

According to the TAT, the fourth phase of We Travel Together helped generate 15 billion baht for the local economy, with the biggest portion derived from hotel spending at 12 billon baht, followed by spending with vouchers (2.76 billion baht) and airfares (918 million baht).

The hotel sector is expected to reap the greatest benefit from this programme, with 4,366 hotels receiving room bookings, while overall spending via vouchers in hotel restaurants totalled 1.45 billion baht. Tour Teaw Thai contributed 1.28 billion baht from 426 tour companies that offer packages in this scheme.

Mr Yuthasak said a leftover budget of 2 billion baht from the ongoing programmes was returned to the Budget Bureau, while the budget for the new phase has to be allocated following cabinet approval.

He said the earliest start for the new phase could be November, potentially spanning to Songkran in April next year, which is a peak period for domestic travel.

The government said last week it prepared a budget of 17 billion baht to stimulate the local economy at the end of this year, aiming for GDP growth at 3.3%.

Mr Yuthasak said the agency has to wait for cabinet approval around mid-November regarding the budget allocation. The stimulus should help create a multiplier effect of 2-3 times of the budget it received, according to the TAT.