TAT reworks stimulus terms
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) plans to rejig the enrolment process for the domestic stimulus campaign to a more friendly version for the elderly, as well as urge airlines to offer special airfares for local tourists.
Only 800,000 room nights have been redeemed under the "We Travel Together" campaign from a total of 5 million room nights available. The agency has to adjust to easier methods so more people, particularly the elderly, join the scheme.
The more inclusive version being prepared for the next phase will be relaxed, allowing domestic tourists to travel within their home province and extending the time frame from Oct 31 to the end of the year.
The TAT plans to propose the additional conditions for this project to the Center for Economic Situation Administration (CESA) by next week.
TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said since the scheme began on July 18, local tourists have contributed 2.57 billion baht to the local economy, of which 1.6 billion came directly from traveller expenditures, with 978 million from government subsidies.
Domestic tourists have mostly flocked to short-distance destinations from Bangkok on the weekends, limited by weak purchasing power because of high travel costs, especially airfares, he said.
The TAT has scheduled a meeting with airline operators this week, asking for a reduction in air ticket prices and addition of flight frequencies to push domestic tourism.
The model of bringing traffic back to the same level as before the pandemic by inducing demand from local tourists has been successful in China, said Mr Yuthasak.
After the government promised to allocate soft loans to seven low-cost airlines, it should also support the local tourism industry during this time, he said.
This year the agency targets 80-100 million trips from Thais, even as tourism sentiment remains hazy with low purchasing power and wariness about the possibility of new local outbreaks.
Mr Yuthasak said Taiwan represents the standard bearer for domestic tourism as locals take up to 10 trips per person each year, meaning there is ample room for Thais to increase domestic trips to 4-5 per year from three at present.
The main target of the scheme is Bangkokians as they have higher purchasing power, which can be converted to more trips each year.
He said the new 3,000-baht cash handout to 15 million people from the government will support locals spending more on travel.
"The economy has already overcome the rock bottom," Mr Yuthasak said. "We have to actively boost this economic engine as soon as possible."
According to the Tourism and Sports Ministry, local tourists took 35.7 million trips during the first seven months, down 60.4% year-on-year, while tourism income was 240 billion baht, a decrease of 61%.