The Thai Hotels Association (THA) is encouraging small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) operators to enrol with the Safety and Health Administration (SHA) as the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) prepares incentives for those joining the project.
Although new investment in hygiene facilities will increase operating costs, hotel operators must prioritise the new practices to maintain their business in the long run, said THA president Supawan Tanomkieatipume.
Hotels may have to lower other operating costs to buy more equipment, such as disinfectant-spraying machines at hotels, to meet the standard.
Ms Supawan acknowledged that operators have to bear the high cost of disinfectant, which has become an essential item.
If the TAT offered incentives for certified hotels such as providing financial assistance for hygiene investment or providing a discounted price from suppliers, it would encourage more operators to enrol in the programme.
The TAT is opening the registration system to 10 hospitality business types: restaurants; hotels or accommodation and conventions; recreational activity and tourist attractions; transport; travel agencies; health and beauty; department stores and shopping centres; sport for tourism; theatres or entertainment and activity; and souvenir shops.
Ms Supawan said that after the TAT gathers applications, each tourism association will responsible for audit procedures. The operators that complete the SHA checklists will receive a certificate awarded by the TAT.
The THA will audit hotel businesses in Thailand to determine which ones will be re-evaluated every two years to maintain the certification. Guests will also have an opportunity to evaluate certified hotels.
TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the guidelines will urge operators to legally register their businesses and work with associations, as soon the agency will introduce an incentive scheme for certified hotels that operate legally.
According to the THA, there are about 1.8 million rooms nationwide. But registered hotel rooms account for only 800,000 rooms.
Mr Yuthasak said the coronavirus outbreak can be an opportunity to create a new tourism platform that focuses on safety and hygiene for tourists, as going forward people will look for accommodations providing trustworthy standards.
The number of illegal rooms will be reduced automatically as people seek products with high standards.
"The TAT plans to provide support via incentives for the additional costs from new hygiene equipment to legal operators that receive the SHA standard, especially small and medium-sized hoteliers who need support to adjust to the new normal," Mr Yuthasak said.
The SHA is a collaboration of the TAT, the Public Health Ministry and the tourism industry.