Association of Domestic Travel upbeat on domestic tour goal

Association of Domestic Travel upbeat on domestic tour goal

Operators pin hopes on stimulus schemes

Suvarnabhumi airport early this month. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)
Suvarnabhumi airport early this month. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)

The government's domestic tourism goal of 200 million trips this year is achievable, though it depends on state support via more stimulus plans, says the Association of Domestic Travel (ADT).

Operators would like the government to flatten the infection rate curve from the hundreds daily to double digits or even a single digit by February, in order to revive travel confidence, said ADT president Thanapol Cheewarattanaporn.

The goal is to revive interprovincial trips by March, starting with low-risk areas, he said.

Around 70% of ADT's 750 members emerged from the lockdown in the third quarter last year. But the resurgence of the virus affected them again, as less than 20% are operating now.

Tour operators are pinning their hopes on future stimulus schemes from the government -- a senior tour programme for 1 million elderly received initial approval and should be implemented once the pandemic subsides, said Mr Thanapol.

The association also proposed a new idea for co-payment for domestic tour programmes, with the government subsidising 50% of tour packages, capped at 3,000 baht for 2 million packages.

Tour packages in the scheme could fall on either weekdays and weekends, but tourists must stay at least one night.

He said the scheme should be launched by April and will be valid for four months. ADT submitted the project outline to the Tourism and Sports Ministry this week, noting the industry is in dire need of assistance after the crisis.

"Tourism activities will halt for two months to contain the virus," Mr Thanapol said. "With this scheme, domestic tourism stands a chance to reach 200 million trips, which can sustain the whole supply chain after hotel and airline subsidies were launched earlier."

He said this project follows local tourism patterns as domestic trips are expected to be concentrated for the rest of the year, given the uncertainties over vaccine effectiveness and policies to allow in foreign visitors in various countries.

The Tourism and Sports Ministry reported local travellers took 78.3 million trips during January to November last year, generating 430 billion baht. The high for domestic trips was 167 million in 2019, contributing 1.08 trillion baht.

Financial aid is essential as all tourism associations are calling for a co-payment scheme with a 50% subsidy for salary, capped at 7,500 baht per person, from the government, said Mr Thanapol.

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