Relief sought for 15,000 tour operators on verge of collapse

Relief sought for 15,000 tour operators on verge of collapse

Khao San Raod is unusually quiet after the coronavirus outbreak hit Thailand. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)
Khao San Raod is unusually quiet after the coronavirus outbreak hit Thailand. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

Tour operators are urging the government to help 15,000 tour operators at risk of collapse due to stagnant cash flow.

Vichit Prakobgosol, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (Atta), said at least 11 troubled sectors still cannot access the government's aid measures for businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Those people also need financial aid from the Social Security Fund (SSF), as well as hotel workers who automatically receive compensation from the fund when following provincial orders to close hotels temporarily to curb the infection, Mr Vichit said.

Apart from 15,000 inbound, outbound and domestic tour operators that have more than 300,000 employees, other sectors that should be included in the scheme are land-sea-air transport, restaurants, souvenir shops, recreation, Mice (meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions), and domestic and international tourism relations.

“The SSF should support tourism workers by giving back 62% of their salary when employers shut down business by themselves without an official order,” Mr Vichit said.

At present, tour guides already received financial support — 5,000-baht monthly handouts — to relieve the mounting financial pressure from paralysed tourism.

The Tourism and Sports Ministry assured hoteliers that they would be included in the benefit, even hotels that decided to close of their own accord.

“Other tourism sectors still need financial assistance to help them stay afloat," Mr Vichit said.

According to an Atta survey, tour operators have sufficient cash flow to survive for just two months. If they have to bear labour costs without help from available sources, some may collapse by that time.

Mr Vichit said the tourism industry was the first segment hit by the outbreak at the end of January.

The situation was worse in March when the government imposed measures restricting international and domestic connections to contain the virus spread. 

The SSF will help subsidise the fixed cost of manpower while businesses have to close under force majeure, Mr Vichit said.

The cabinet on Tuesday approved another round of stimulus worth 1.9 trillion baht to support people and business affected by the virus.

Mr Vichit said operators are still waiting for further details of 10-billion-baht soft loans approved for tourism-related businesses.

Loan conditions from Government Savings Bank are expected to be clarified after the board meeting this week.

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