Thailand: TAT stumped on budget

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is expected to look elsewhere for stimulus after the prime minister asked the cabinet last week to prepare new mechanisms to accelerate year-end spending.

The agency had been pushing for a tourism stimulus plan totalling 1 billion baht, proposed in June, financed by a budget from the 500-billion-baht loan decree. However, the deadline for approval ended last month.

TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the agency submitted information to the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) about a likely budget to stimulate tourist spending within this year.

He said the average budget to increase tourism expenditure per person could be set at around 3,600 baht, based on the maximum subsidy each traveller received per day from previous phases of “We Travel Together”.

It depends on the NESDC or a related authority to consider how much they want to use to stimulate tourism, said Mr Yuthasak.

As the TAT is drafting a proposal at the moment, the We Travel Together scheme might be prolonged, while the so-called “Booster Shot” scheme for tourism operators requiring 1 billion baht must be reconsidered.

He said it is likely the whole proposal will need to be overhauled, with only a few proposals attached to the new projects it is preparing at the moment.

“The tourism minister assigned the TAT to follow the instructions of the prime minister by proposing new schemes to help boost the economy,” said Mr Yuthasak.

“As the Booster Shot was drafted in the low season in June and awaited approval for months, many circumstances have changed, which means some proposals might be dismissed.”

The final proposal will be submitted to the tourism and sports minister before being sent to the involved parties for consideration, he said.

The priority for the new proposals is to help reduce travel costs for local tourists and extend the length of stay to boost expenditure, said Mr Yuthasak.

“Some projects in Booster Shot could not wait, so we spent our internal budget to help operators struggling during that time,” he said.

“For some businesses that recover during the high season, they may no longer need large-scale support similar to a few months ago.”

Last week the NESDC held a meeting with the TAT and the tourism sector about the Booster Shot scheme.

A source who requested anonymity said tourism operators didn’t receive a commitment that the government will reconsider the 1-billion-baht stimulus plan.

Related state parties said they could not offer aid measures as requested.