Tourism Council wants shutdown, relaxed lending

Tourism Council wants shutdown, relaxed lending

Downtown Bangkok has ground to a halt.
Downtown Bangkok has ground to a halt.

The Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) has submitted a letter to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha asking for more relaxed regulations on lending from banks, and another to Bangkok governor Aswin Khwanmuang demanding an official order shutting down tourist facilities in the city.

In a letter to the city governor, they asked that he shut down hotels, tour agencies and tourist bus services. 

They asked him to issue a temporary closure order for hotels which do not have guests. This would help reduce travel activities and comply with travel restrictions imposed earlier by the government. 

Five provinces have already ordered hotels to shut down. The latest were Phuket, which the governor ordered on Thursday night, and Phangnga, which demanded all hotels stop services as soon as the last batch of guests check out.

Three provinces previously issued hotel closures: Chon Buri, Kanchanaburi, and Chanthaburi.

In a letter addressed to the prime minister on Friday, the council pointed out three pain points that have battered operators during the pandemic and still require effective solutions.

Official orders to close down all types of tourism sites caused tourism operators and related businesses such as hotels, tour agencies and tourism transport to automatically stop their operations even without an official order.

Some operators have persistent non-performing loans but are still running their businesses. These operators cannot obtain the soft loans promised under the stimulus scheme, the TCT said.

The council also requested their employees who regularly contribute to the Social Security Fund (SSF) receive financial support from the fund. They have been blocked from this aid because there is no official order to close these businesses. 

"TCT requests more accessible measures such as loosening conditions for financial statements and credit payment history to allow operators to acquire soft loans and maintain their businesses,” said TCT president Chairat Trirattanajarasporn.

The council is also asking for a waiver on both capital and interest payments for six months. The Finance Ministry should order every financial institution to lower the interest rate up to 50% for six months and should help compensate those who already paid interest, said the TCT.

Operators also want a 150-billion-baht tourism fund established, as detailed in the Tourism Council of Thailand Act 2001, to relieve the impact from the virus.

The fund committee should consist of representatives from the Finance Ministry, the Tourism and Sports Ministry, the Bank of Thailand, the Office of SME Promotion and the TCT.

TCT demanded the SSF pay 62% of each worker’s salary for six months, as well as consider waiving monthly salary contributions to the SSF for both employers and employees for 180 days, or until the virus is contained.

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