Hotel sector wants to extend domestic stimulus schemes

Hotel sector wants to extend domestic stimulus schemes

A man browses hotel deals at a travel fair. Amid the pandemic, many hotels are offering local tourists discounts based on the government's
A man browses hotel deals at a travel fair. Amid the pandemic, many hotels are offering local tourists discounts based on the government's "We travel together" and "Tour Teaw Thai" stimulus packages.  (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)

The hotel sector is urging the government to extend domestic stimulus programmes to cover the high season in the final quarter, after those projects were interrupted by the third outbreak.

The cabinet on Wednesday announced that two tourism stimulus packages, "We Travel Together" -- a subsidy on hotels and airfares -- and "Tour Teaw Thai" -- a co-payment for domestic tour packages -- must be postponed indefinitely in light of the recent outbreak.

Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of the Thai Hotels Association (THA), said those projects were planned for the current fiscal year which ends on Sept 30.

However, due to the larger scale impact of the fresh outbreak which may take at least two months or until June to curb, it is necessary to extend the validation period of those stimulus campaigns to the end of 2021 or beyond.

"Thailand needs a longer time to contain the spread of the virus because the infection rate of this variant runs faster than the previous two rounds, not to mention the higher level of fear among the public," she said.

"This time will be different and more challenging for the tourism sector as people voluntarily stay home despite no rigid lockdown orders from the government."

Mrs Marisa said even though some hotels have already enrolled in the asset warehousing programme which facilitates them to easily access soft loans and debt restructuring, this measure alone cannot help operators who have to carry a tremendous cost burden.

"The official order from the government to close hotels in risk areas during the first outbreak prompted the Social Security Fund (SSF) to compensate 62% of salary to employees for three months last year. Even though there is no such enforcement this year, the impact of travel restrictions and the ban on many activities produce the same bitter result," she said.

Meanwhile, the government has not responded to the monthly salary co-payment scheme proposed by the THA and the Thai Chamber of Commerce since before the third outbreak.

"From the current situation, the only solution for employees to get financial aid from the SSF is to be unemployed first, but hotels don't want to lay off staff because skilled workers in the hospitality sector will be difficult to find when we want them back," said Mrs Marisa.

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor Yuthasak Supasorn said his agency has to discuss with the National Economic and Social Development Council about extending the two stimulus schemes beyond the current fiscal year. At present, the TAT has not yet determined a relaunch date as it has to wait until the pandemic is under control and most restrictions are lifted.

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