TCT backs travel perks for expats

TCT backs travel perks for expats

The Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) supports the idea of allocating travel incentives for expatriates, while the Thai Chamber of Commerce wants to stimulate the local market with new medical and wellness tourism.

Chairat Trirattanajarasporn, president of the TCT, disagreed with the Immigration Bureau's decision to end visa amnesty for tourists stranded in Thailand by Sept 26.

He said Thailand should extend the deadline for visa renewal for a month as some tourists have problems catching flights back home with air travel between countries restricted.

Some 500,000 tourists were reported to be stranded when the country closed its borders, helping to generate revenue for local operators.

The government should not set a deadline that is hard to follow, said Mr Chairat.

He said TCT will push the government to reconsider giving expats the same tourism benefits as Thai citizens, a notion endorsed by many tourism operators such as the Thai Hotels Association.

Even though the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the moderator of the domestic tourism stimulus campaign, rejected that possibility, citing the Loan Act, Mr Chairat said there's room in the provisions to be interpreted as to allow expats to benefit from the stimulus package.

"If the priority of the measure is to help tourism operators, we seriously need the government to help stimulate all local residents, regardless of nationality," he said.

Kalin Sarasin, chairman of the chamber, said it has long supported expat travel in Thailand, but the government may find it difficult to provide similar benefits to Thais.

One possibility is extending tax deductions for spending on tourism services to expats, including marketing campaigns tailored for this group, he said.

Mr Kalin said the chamber is promoting a wellness tourism campaign called the "Happy Model" in every province.

The model consists of eating healthy and organic foods; staying in places that provide wellness facilities; promoting an active lifestyle through activities such as running and boxing; and learning local knowledge and sharing with others.

Yesterday the chamber signed a memorandum of understanding with TAT to stimulate domestic tourism, aiming to promote destinations reachable by air travel, running from November to February 2021.

He said this partnership will encourage about 100,000 chamber members nationwide to travel more, generating 300-400 billion baht.

Each member typically travels with 2-3 other people, which should help increase tourism revenue, said TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn.

Thailand received 3.6 million medical tourists and 12.5 million wellness tourists last year, which generated 41 billion baht and 409 billion baht, respectively.

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