Hotel operators slam fee waiver

Hotel operators slam fee waiver

Hotel operators are underwhelmed by an aid measure to waive the 40-baht-per-room operation fee for a year, calling the remedy trivial in the face of financial devastation caused by the pandemic and requesting a revival of the 5,000-baht domestic tourism rebate.

The cabinet green-lighted the 40-baht fee waiver yesterday after a proposal by the Interior Ministry.

The waiver will be in effect from July 1 to June 30, 2021.

Supawan Tanomkieatipume, president of the Thai Hotels Association (THA), said hoteliers are thankful for the fee exemption but doubt it will be significant enough to cushion the severe impact of the virus on revenue.

The hotel sector operates 783,855 rooms in the country, meaning the relief measure would cost the government 31.4 million baht.

Instead, Ms Supawan said the government should provide direct support to its workers while alleviating the cost burden to hotels.

"We would like the government to support our workers rather than waiving the annual 40-baht fee per room, which benefits only a tiny part of operations and should not even be collected in the first place," she said.

Ms Supawan suggested the government take a look at other countries' relief packages and pointed to policies that subsidise 20-30% of salaries to reduce layoffs. She also requested the government extend cash aid from the Social Security Fund.

Ms Supawan plans to propose these measures at her next meeting with Labour Minister Chatu Mongol Sonakul.

Surapong Techaruvichit, an adviser to the THA, said the Interior Ministry should focus on closing illegal hotels in Thailand, a persistent problem for the hotel industry and one that exacerbates the sector's financial difficulties during the crisis.

He said hotel operators are putting their faith in cash handouts expected to be dispersed in July, but they are still waiting for details on how the money will circulate into the economy.

"Injecting cash directly to consumers and letting them spend it themselves will revitalise domestic tourism and will be better for people, businesses and the national economy in the end," Mr Surapong said.

Narumon Pinyosinwat, a government spokeswoman, said that after the government declared a state of emergency in March to curb the coronavirus outbreak, the hotel business was hit hard.

The government planning unit, the National Economic and Social Development Council, forecasts the number of foreign visitors at just 12.7 million this year, compared with 39.8 million last year.

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