The tourism industry should have a competitiveness enhancement fund to transform businesses in order to avoid a massive collapse in the post-pandemic era, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the objective of such a fund is not to remedy ills during a time of crisis, but rather to help tourism operators prepare their businesses for changes in customer demand once the pandemic is brought under control.
"We will see more demand for technology-driven services, which will prompt operators to invest more," he said.
"This fund can empower them when global tourism returns."
The value of the fund is estimated at a minimum of 30 billion baht, or roughly 1% of the 3 trillion baht in tourism revenue recorded in 2019.
The agency already discussed the idea with Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, but it would require more detailed discussions with the parties involved as the TAT is not authorised to set up this type of fund by itself.
"Our industry has a persistent problem of oversupply. The pandemic crisis will accelerate major shifts in the hospitality sector, requiring operators to change," according to Mr Yuthasak.
"Some of them might not be ready and will have to spin off to another field."
To help set up the fund, the TAT plans to conduct a gap analysis to assess the different levels of performance and potential among all tourism operators in Thailand.
The study provides an overview of businesses that have adaptive abilities, with this group the proposed target recipient of the competitiveness enhancement fund.
The Tourism and Sports Ministry assigned the TAT to create a registration system that allows operators affected by the crisis to share their problems and obstacles that are preventing them from developing their business.
Under the national strategy plan on tourism, Thailand has to create a greater balance between the economy, the environment and society, while focusing on high-value tourism.
Mr Yuthasak said the pandemic created a speed bump for that long-term goal because all of the country's tourism operators lack sufficient strength to adapt to these changes.
Once the agency has all the necessary information required, the Tourism and Sports Ministry plans to propose the fund scheme to the Center for Economic Situation Administration to evaluate the possibility of implementing the project.
He said the fund is necessary because existing funds administered by other organisations have different targets that exclude the tourism sector.
For example, the Board of Investment's competitive enhancement fund for targeted industries is restricted to new industries in the country and high-tech industries that are able to create innovation.