2nd-phase stimulus to fan out tourists

2nd-phase stimulus to fan out tourists

New subsidies target less visited locales

People register for the tourism stimulus scheme on smartphones Wednesday. Major provinces are expected to benefit the most from the stimulus.
People register for the tourism stimulus scheme on smartphones Wednesday. Major provinces are expected to benefit the most from the stimulus.

The Tourism and Sports Ministry aims to use the second phase of tourism stimulus to boost second-tier provinces and local economies by adding more subsidies for travellers who want to venture off the beaten track.

"Major provinces will mostly benefit from the first phase of the stimulus plan, so we have to find a solution to boost tourism in second-tier provinces and local communities around Thailand," said Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, the tourism and sports minister.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha instructed the ministry and the Tourism Authority of Thailand to distribute tourism revenue to the vast majority of the country.

Of the approved budget totalling 18 billion baht for the hotel subsidy and 2 billion for air tickets, Mr Phiphat expects just half to be used, as people tend to drive to destinations near Bangkok rather than use air transport.

As the scheme will subsidise 5 million room nights at 40% of normal room rates, limited to 3,000 baht a night, he doubts many will use the maximum subsidy, which would mean having to book a room rated at over 7,500 baht a night.

The remaining budget could be reassigned to the next phase without asking for additional budget.

But instead of introducing the same ceiling of 40% of the rate, the ministry will propose a 60% subsidy from the government to lure local guests away from marquee destinations.

The second phase should make more hotel rooms, local homestays and home lodges accessible in less-popular provinces and communities, said Mr Phiphat.

He said the ministry also wants to stimulate more domestic tourism during weekdays in the second phase.

For the ongoing "Moral Support" campaign for 1.2 million health personnel, the ministry will encourage tour agents to offer more community-based tourism (CBT) packages.

Potential itineraries would involve 19 local communities designated the CBT Thailand standard under the supervision of the Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration, such as Bo Hin Farmstay Community in Trang and Ban Bo Suak in Nan.

Officials this week discovered two in-country coronavirus cases: a nine-year-old girl from a Sudanese family and an Egyptian airman in Rayong.

Mr Phiphat said tourism confidence in Rayong, Chon Buri and Chanthaburi could be temporarily affected, but the overall sentiment of locals remains positive because no new cases of local infection have surfaced.

"The travel bubbles plan will be delayed from August because we have to wait another 14 days to ensure Thailand is clear of any infection," he said, referring to the scheme involving low-risk countries.

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