Operators lukewarm on tourism scheme

Operators lukewarm on tourism scheme

Windfall for retailers leaves locals behind

Tourists take photos at the old quarter of Phuket on Sept 18, 2019. (Photo by Achadtaya Chuennirun)
Tourists take photos at the old quarter of Phuket on Sept 18, 2019. (Photo by Achadtaya Chuennirun)

Tour operators have cast doubt on whether the government’s latest measures will effectively boost domestic tourism, citing the poor performance of the cash giveaway and rebate scheme.

The 1,000-baht cash handout and 15% rebate scheme, which began Monday, was intended to revive stagnant tourism but is unlikely to benefit local tourism and community shops as planned, said Chamnan Srisawat, president of the Thai Federation of Provincial Tourist Associations.

Many recipients have spent the 1,000 baht received from the "Taste, Shop, Spend" scheme at big retail chains, figuring it would be easier than spending in provincial areas because of the complicated process of the e-money app, Mr Chamnan said.

But he cautioned that it was too early to evaluate whether or not the scheme would be successful. He said the state should gather ideas from tourism associations and tourism-related agencies on new stimulus plans that might be offered in the future.

Besides the cash handouts, the cabinet on Tuesday approved the use of 116 million baht to finance two additional campaigns — "Visit Thailand With 100 Baht" and "Shocking Price Weekday Travel" — to promote domestic tourism in the fourth quarter of this year.

Mr Chamnan said the private sector is awaiting details about the content of these campaigns and when they would start.

For operators, methods that could efficiently boost tourism and benefit operators include giving cash cards or gift vouchers to travellers to be used exclusively for certain tourism products and services.

Pirun Chinachot, head of the Ratchaburi Tourism Council, said the government should offer long-term measures one at a time to avoid public confusion.

Launching hasty measures will mostly benefit big operators because many local communities lack the technology and IT infrastructure to access digital platforms and offer their services or products online, Mr Pirun said, referencing the sign-up requirements for the current scheme.

The cash handout and the 15% cash rebate of up to 30,000 baht for tourism-related spending allow Thais aged 18 and older to sign up at a specified website and download the e-payment mobile app from Krungthai Bank.

Registration under the 10-million-recipient quota, which is limited to 1 million registrations a day, reached the limit quickly each day.

Registered recipients must use their benefits from Sept 27 to Nov 30, a period that is too short and should be extended, Mr Pirun said.

Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said the details of the two new campaigns will be unveiled next week and will be simpler, especially the Visit Thailand With 100 Baht campaign set to run during November and December.

The new campaigns are expected to boost domestic travel after statistics showed slow growth in the first eight months with 103.55 million trips, up 1.3% year-on-year, Mr Phiphat said.

The government’s 1,000-baht cash giveaway and 15% cash rebate scheme have seen more than 3.11 million registrants by the end of last month.

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