TAT calls attention to flaws in tourism scheme

TAT calls attention to flaws in tourism scheme

Only 17% of 5.05 million registrants used the benefit over two months

Airline subsidies are reported to have the lowest redemption rate under We Travel Together.
Airline subsidies are reported to have the lowest redemption rate under We Travel Together.

The domestic tourism subsidy needs another major revamp despite generating 3 billion baht for the local sector, as just 17% of 5.05 million registrants used the benefit over two months, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

The 22.4-billion-baht stimulus campaign called We Travel Together started on July 18. But as of Sept 5 only 851,321 registrants had booked hotel rooms via this privilege, with total transactions worth 2.5 billion baht.

Spending using 600- and 900-baht e-vouchers attached automatically upon check-in during weekdays and weekends, respectively, helped distribute 388 million baht to local operators.

The airline subsidies are reported to have the lowest redemption rate, with transactions totalling 23.6 million baht from 8,703 ticket purchases. Users cannot directly book tickets with discounted prices; they instead receive a 40% subsidy after the trip is completed.

"In its first 50 days, we saw clear signs of limited purchasing power, which prompted us to rethink the new mechanism to induce more registrants to book hotels and air tickets, and boost spending," said TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn.

The scheme saw an average of 17,026 transactions a day. But those booking flocked to 4,014 hotels out of 7,130 in the scheme. The most popular destinations were Chon Buri, Phuket, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chiang Mai and Bangkok.

The TAT will extend the deadline of the project to December to widen the booking window for local tourists. It plans to adjust redemption procedures to correct pain points, particularly for airline bookings.

At a meeting with airlines in Thailand this week, the TAT was asked to consider a less complicated method for air ticket purchases by providing an instant 40% discount upon booking, the same as for hotel booking.

Airlines expect lower prices to hasten the decisions of tourists considering destinations after the government approved increasing the maximum air ticket subsidy to 2,000 baht a person earlier this month.

Mr Yuthasak said the tourism industry is still depending heavily on the domestic market as international tourists are barred from Thailand.

If the stimulus campaign can reach more people, it will help stimulate sentiment from this year onward, he said.

"All airlines in Thailand are expanding their domestic flights extensively, and they predict that the schedules will be the same as pre-pandemic level by the end of this year," Mr Yuthasak said.

He said reopening the borders to foreign tourists should start this year because many countries have already announced plans to welcome back international travellers.

"We have to start our plan carefully and slowly to see the result," he said. "Many countries may skip the plan to reopen to international tourists, but we can use this opportunity to speed up so Thailand won't be left behind when tourism comes back."

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