THA urges government to pursue travel bubble strategy

THA urges government to pursue travel bubble strategy

The Thai Hotels Association (THA) has called on the government to continue its travel bubble plan with other potential countries besides China, while allocating more financial support to hotels.

As Beijing has extended the ban on outbound tour groups and is maintaining 14-day mandatory quarantine for all arrivals, the Thai government should seek other low-risk countries to start travel agreements, said Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, THA president.

Singapore, Vietnam, South Korea and Taiwan are the countries which reported 60 cases per million population, a similar situation to Thailand.

"Singapore presents the highest potential for us to create a travel bubble," Mrs Marisa said.

"The city-state shows readiness to reopen borders and discuss tourism plans with other potential countries."

Hoteliers would like to see the Singapore-Thailand travel tie taking shape in the middle of January next year.

Meanwhile, the THA also proposes an idea to offer resort quarantine in beach destinations to attract tourists from low-risk countries.

She said Scandinavian tourists who usually visit the country during winter could be the key target for this scheme.

After tourists pass the Covid-19 test on arrival, they will be accompanied to the hotel and stay there for the whole trip. There will be a swap test on the second or third day after arrival.

If tourists are proven free of the virus at the end of mandatory quarantine, they can return to their home country as usual.

Mrs Marisa said international demand is still soft.

Some hotels in Bangkok that joined the alternative state quarantine program received zero guests as did alternative local state quarantine sites in Koh Samui and Phuket.

Hoteliers urgently need effective tourism reopening plans for international arrivals and the government has to facilitate VIP corporate segment as well, she said.

She said operators expect to raise this issue at the joint committee meeting with the Tourism and Sport, Public Health and Foreign ministries in mid-December.

THA will also propose measures to relieve liquidity problems, such as reducing electricity bills, implementing co-payment in which the government will subsidise 50% of a 15,000-baht monthly salary for 200,000 workers or 30% of hotel workforce, maintaining the land and building tax at 10% next year and keeping 2% contribution rates to the Social Security Fund.

The association will push the government to establish a hotel fund under a 100,000-baht budget. After the government jointly invests in hotels for seven years, operators can buy back properties when the situation gets better.

They also suggest that the government extend the period for travel subsidy campaign from Jan 31, 2021 to Dec 31, 2021 and provide continuous support for promotions for expatriates.

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