Domestic tourism perks take shape

Domestic tourism perks take shape

B3,000 per person for hotel stays, 40% off air tickets

The government will offer a 3,000-baht subsidy on 5 million hotel rooms and a 40% discount on airline tickets to Thai tourists next month under a 20-billion-baht scheme to revitalise the tourism industry.

Domestic tourists are returning to key destinations like Krabi after months of lockdowns and closed beaches, but international travel restrictions remain.

"A complete package, combining benefits from booking both hotel and airfare, will be submitted to the cabinet for approval next week, as we expect to stimulate 100 million domestic trips while the international market recovers slowly," said Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.

The scheme is part of attempts to drive total tourism revenue to 1.23 trillion baht this year after achieving 520 billion baht in the first five months. Of the goal, 402 billion baht should come from domestic receipts and 828 billion baht from international spending.

Mr Phiphat said tourists aged 20 and older are eligible to use the benefit when checking into hotels or purchasing air tickets from airlines that join the scheme.

The government will subsidise 40% of spending for up to 3,000 baht per person. Hotel stays should be no longer than five nights.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Finance Ministry finalised the package this week, but details are still changeable, depending on another round of discussions with the National Economic and Social Development Council and the Finance Ministry on Monday.

"At first, we didn't include airlines in the scheme, but as the aviation industry is an essential part of travel that has been hit hard by the pandemic, we were asked to help them too," Mr Phiphat said. "With this new benefit, tourists can receive a subsidy on airfare too."

Thai travellers are required to sign up via the Krungthai Bank app to get an e-voucher for the tourism stimulus scheme, which will run from July to October.

Another stimulus package is tailored to 1.2 million medical personnel, village health volunteers and subdistrict health-promotion hospital workers. They will be eligible to take free meetings and incentives trips as a reward for hard work with a 2,000-baht support per person.

Mr Phiphat said that during yesterday's meeting of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), there was discussion about bilateral agreements to let people between two countries travel without a 14-day quarantine, known as a travel bubble.

In the initial stage, the country will open to only two groups: business people who receive an invitation from a firm and patients who have an appointment with a doctor in Thailand.

As the government has to prepare more subtle screening processes, Thailand may cater to about 1,000 inbound guests daily.

According to the CCSA, the targeted countries include China, Hong Kong, Macao, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar and Middle East nations.

Mr Phiphat said the final proposal on the travel bubble will be submitted to the next CCSA meeting on Wednesday.

In the next phase, the ministry plans to speak with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha about easing restrictions for long-stay tourists who can travel in designated areas where their location is easily tracked, such as Phuket, Krabi, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.

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