1.9m sign up for domestic travel perk
More than 1.9 million people signed up for the "We travel together" tourism stimulus package as of 6pm on the first day of registration, a scheme devised to promote local travel as the industry has been battered by the pandemic.
The registration time, which runs from 6am to 9pm, will be open via www.เราเที่ยวด้วยกัน.com until the quota is met for subsidies of hotel rooms and e-vouchers, said Lavaron Sangsnit, director-general at the Fiscal Policy Office.
The quota is capped at 5 million hotel rooms.
Previous lockdown measures and continuing restrictions on inbound international flights have taken a toll on earnings among tourism operators and related parties.
There were 45.9 million trips taken by Thais during the first six months, down 59.5% year-on-year, with a 61.3% dip in tourism revenue to 207 billion baht, according to data from the Tourism and Sports Ministry.
The registration process went smoothly without any server crashes as the system is based on the registration process of www.เราไม่ทิ้งกัน.com ("Nobody will be left behind" in Thai), allowing self-employed people to register to receive financial aid, said Mr Lavaron.
There was a minor problem with delays on receiving a one-time password to enter for the registration process, with only a handful of people experiencing this issue, he said.
The scheme is not expected to be affected by recent news indicating an Egyptian soldier, confirmed to be infected with the virus, who was found to have visited shopping malls in Rayong province, said Mr Lavaron.
Public health officials are expected to handle the issue, and there are 76 provinces to visit other than Rayong, he said.
Participants must be Thai nationals with a valid ID card; be aged 18 or above on the date of registration; must choose to travel, eat and stay in a province other than the province on one's house registration; and must have a smartphone that can be registered to receive travel privileges, accommodations and other benefits.
Applicants must also download the Pao Tang application to confirm their identity in the app and will have to wait for an SMS message to confirm their registration within three days.
The government will subsidise 5 million nights of hotel accommodation at 40% of normal room rates, with the subsidy limited to 3,000 baht per night for up to five nights. Tourists will be responsible for the other 60%.
Subsidies for other services, including food, are capped at 600 baht per room per night. The subsidised tourist facilities must be outside the tourists' home provinces to qualify. The subsidies are limited to 40% of actual expenses, with tourists paying the rest.
The subsidy will be transferred into Pao Tang accounts after registrants check into the registered hotel accommodations by 5pm every day.
When tourists travel by airlines, the government will refund 40% of the ticket price, but no more than 1,000 baht per seat and the quota is limited to 2 million seats.
Travellers must book and pay the full ticket price through airlines' websites first. The government will later issue refunds on the 15th and the 30th of the month.