Ban on overseas trips to keep officials focused on home front

Ban on overseas trips to keep officials focused on home front

Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul
Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul

State officials will be prohibited from travelling abroad this year in order to promote domestic meetings and incentives and strengthen consumption at home, says Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul.

Mr Anutin, also the public heath minister, said every ministry will scrap overseas meetings and seminars and make supporting the domestic economy a priority.

"We will definitely not approve such trips abroad, but rather encourage officials countrywide to take inter-provincial or inter-regional trips within the country," he said.

For the private sector, the government already rolled out tax measures for Mice (meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions). Perks include a two-times tax deduction for corporate seminar expenses and a 20,000-baht voucher for domestic meetings.

Mr Anutin said the Public Health Ministry is working with the Tourism and Sports Ministry in drafting a rule to create "travel bubbles" with other countries that have successfully contained the coronavirus.

Many nations have contacted Thailand asking for a bilateral agreement to let visitors travel back-and-forth without requiring a 14-day quarantine.

The Tourism and Sports Ministry is to present the proposal on travel bubbles to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) at Friday's meeting chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

"The idea of pairing Thailand to potential countries has been discussed with New Zealand's ambassador to Thailand," Mr Anutin said.

Thailand on Thursday reported zero new cases within the country for a 15th day in a row, as all the new cases were found in state quarantine.

Mr Anutin said Thailand's impressive performance in managing the outbreak will boost the country's reputation and create more opportunity to attract future Mice travellers.

The minister said he plans to submit a proposal to the CCSA on Friday to consider allowing domestic flights to resume at Phuket airport as soon as possible.

Speaking at a webinar hosted by the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau, Kreingkai Chongcharoen, director-general of the Culture, Sports and Tourism Department under the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, said the BMA has talked with operators such as hotels and convention centres about safety and hygiene procedures that must be followed to host Mice events.

The BMA will provide a complete screening process to prevent exposure to the virus and gain the confidence of Mice travellers.

"Every district in Bangkok is now ready and fully prepared to host new Mice events that ensure the safety of participants and help drive the overall economy," Mr Kreingkai said.

Bangkok has been decorated as a Mice City along with Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Khon Kaen and Phuket. Songkhla and Nakhon Ratchasima are to be added this year.


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