Ministry eyes soft loans for operators
Tourism needs to prep for reopening
The Tourism and Sports Ministry plans to ask the Finance Ministry for 10 billion baht in soft loans to help operators prepare their businesses for the mid-October reopening deadline.
Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, the tourism and sports minister, said if the Phuket sandbox operates smoothly, his ministry will use the opportunity to discuss with the Finance Ministry soft loans allocated from the government's 500-billion-baht loan decree to help relieve the economic impact of the pandemic.
If the tourism soft loans are approved, operators can use a cross-guarantee measure, which allows firms to act as loan guarantors for each other, he said.
While awaiting the return of foreign tourists, domestic tourists can help operators stay afloat, said Mr Phiphat.
"It's impossible to wait until daily infection rates drop. Low-risk provinces have to focus on increasing the number of domestic tourist trips," he said.
"Apart from the 10 dark red zones with strict Covid-19 controls, in which people are urged to limit their movements, there are opportunities in other provinces to resume leisure activities."
However, it is largely dependent on provincial governors to determine whether domestic trips are allowed between areas with low infection rates without travel restrictions, said Mr Phiphat.
According to the Tourism and Sports Ministry, local tourists made 23.6 million trips between January and May, down 7.82% year-on-year despite the period in 2020 having a low base.
Domestic travel contributed 125 billion baht, a decrease of 35.1%.
Tourism stimulus measures, including the new phase of "Rao Tiew Duay Kan" (We Travel Together), a subsidy for hotels, and "Tour Teaw Thai", which provides 40% compensation for domestic tour packages of up to 5,000 baht, open for registration at the end of this month.
However, travel dates are dependent on further updates about virus outbreaks.
He said the two measures will be extended to December. These measures should contribute a large amount of income to the local economy, especially given the budget of 5 billion baht for the new Tour Teaw Thai scheme, said Mr Phiphat.
If the two schemes record low demand during the first two months, the ministry will work with tourism operators and the National Economic and Social Development Council to revise them and allocate remaining budget to amended stimulus schemes to increase the number of domestic trips, he said.