Long holidays to stimulate travel

Long holidays to stimulate travel

Domestic market to dominate first four months of 2021

The government is poised to allocate long holidays every month next year to stimulate local tourism demand, while pledging to commence travel bubbles after April.

Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said domestic travellers will continue to be a major market for at least the first four months of 2021, with frequent holidays helping to increase the number of domestic trips while the international market remains unpredictable.

He said on Dec 28 the Tourism Authority of Thailand plans to announce the extension of 1 million room nights as part of the subsidy scheme for local travellers, despite the ongoing probe into fraud.

In the cabinet meeting scheduled for Dec 29, the ministry is to propose a 5-billion-baht stimulus campaign for senior travellers aged 55 and above that could help increase liquidity for tour operators because the scheme will require eligible tourists to buy tour packages only from operators, said Mr Phiphat.

Moreover, if there is budget left over after the stimulus programmes expire in April, the ministry will work with the private sector, finding new stimulus projects or activities to maintain the momentum of the domestic market.

Speaking at the Tourism Council of Thailand meeting on Friday, Mr Phiphat insisted tourism operators should not stop thinking about plans to attract the foreign market as it remains a vital source for tourism.

But to mention those plans out loud now may not be appropriate as Thailand is still struggling with a new wave of infections.

"The ministry wants the private sector to think about possible plans for foreign tourists that could be implemented next year after Thailand controls the recent outbreak," he said. "I believe we still have a chance to see a beautiful year ahead."

Mr Phiphat said the summer season next year could be a good time to revive negotiations on travel bubbles with other countries as the pandemic is believed to be more controllable with warmer weather. Different countries have learned various methods to curb the outbreak while balancing their economic priorities, he said.

Thailand already offers visa exemptions for 56 countries this month, which can facilitate tourists who intend to visit the country, but the mandatory 14-day quarantine remains an obstacle for most of them.

Mr Phiphat said after the New Year holiday he will propose to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration to consider an "area quarantine" at the behest of hotel operators in many parts of Thailand.

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