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Bangkok Post - THA draws up support plan
THA draws up support plan

THA draws up support plan

Group to present ideas later this year

If the tourism situation does not improve over the next 3-6 months, the number of unemployed will likely escalate, says the Thai Hotels Association. Wichan Charoenkiatpakul
If the tourism situation does not improve over the next 3-6 months, the number of unemployed will likely escalate, says the Thai Hotels Association. Wichan Charoenkiatpakul

The pandemic has accentuated the imbalance in the oversupply of hotels and low demand, with most operators struggling to break even, according to the Thai Hotels Association (THA).

About 1 million hotel staff were laid off and demand for labour in the sector shrank by 75% because half the hotels nationwide remain closed, according to THA findings.

THA president Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi said that if the situation does not improve over the next 3-6 months, the number of unemployed will likely escalate because the local market alone cannot sustain the business of the vast majority of hotel operators.

The worst-case scenario will become prevalent, with more hotels expected to close permanently or forced to sell when they cannot pay off their debts, particularly if Thailand cannot welcome international tourists by the second half of next year.

In response, the THA developed assistive measures for hotels and will propose them to the authorities later this year.

The association will propose that the Bank of Thailand grant a 20% increase in soft loans from the initial budget for small and medium-sized hotels at 2% interest and allow hotels to pay back the loans within 2-3 years to ease the burden from the effects of the pandemic.

Moreover, the THA will ask the central bank to offer a two- or three-year grace period for paying back loans at a fixed 2% interest.

"Around 50% of hotels have resumed operation but at a very low occupancy rate," Mrs Marisa said. "The minimum occupancy needed to sustain the viability of hotels is 30%. Anything lower will not allow long-term survival."

The THA proposes increasing the number of inbound tourists from abroad to 600 from 300 per day so that more hotels can take in people and receive benefits from the state quarantine (SQ) and alternative state quarantine (ASQ) model.

Mrs Marisa said stimulus for domestic tourism remains the key to pushing the industry forward, but the government should streamline the stimulus campaign to make it accessible to all targets, including elderly people who may not be familiar with mobile apps and complicated procedures.

She suggested the idea of launching a hotel e-voucher that provides a fixed price on an e-commerce platform such as Lazada and Shopee, with co-payment from the government to subsidise room prices by 50%.

Mrs Marisa said garnering support from locals for the notion of welcoming international tourists into the country remains an important factor to support tourism.

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