Calls for state to readjust scheme

Calls for state to readjust scheme

Smaller hotels need to gain more benefits

A group of children play at Cha-am beach in Phetchaburi province.
A group of children play at Cha-am beach in Phetchaburi province.

Tourism operators in resort cities near Bangkok are urging the government to adjust a hotel subsidy scheme called We Travel Together to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) gain more benefits.

Wassana Srikkanchana, president of the Hua Hin-Cha Am Tourism Association, said small hotels with less than 25 rooms struggle to survive as they cannot get any loans and rarely receive a windfall from the tourism measure because Thais normally opt for luxury hotels.

Hua Hin currently has around 200 hotels, with 8,000-9,000 rooms, of which 60% are SMEs which have only 2-3% occupancy during weekdays and 40-50% on weekends.

However, occupancy for four- and five-star hotels increases to 20-30% on workdays and 80-90% on weekends, while room rates returned to the same level prior to the outbreak, particularly beachfront hotels.

"The government has to adjust some benefits in particular for SMEs to let them become more competitive," Ms Wassana said.

She suggested that the subsidy for small businesses or hotels under three-stars should be increased from 40% to 70% to give more opportunities for those who have less income to travel.

"Advanced bookings which need at least seven days should be shortened to three days as seen during the previous phases of this scheme to meet tourists' demand for last-minute trips," said Karun Suttharomn, acting president of the Tourism Council of Phetchaburi.

He said with these adjustments, the occupancy rate for hotels in Cha-am should rise to 70-75% this month, after room rates already rebounded to 90% of the 2019 level and are estimated to fully recover by mid-November.

According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), 890,781 rooms were booked at 3,797 hotels by 323,353 Thais under the stimulus scheme as of Nov 7.

Meanwhile, the government subsidised 1.34 billion baht from an overall 3.49 billion.

Thapanee Kiatphaibool, TAT deputy governor for domestic marketing, said the agency will follow the travel situation to develop further plans that can assure mutual benefits for all operators.

Besides hotel subsidies, she said demand from Tour Teaw Thai, which subsidises 40% of tour packages of up to 5,000 baht to 1 million Thais, is still sluggish.

As of Nov 7, 3,091 tour packages were sold, while just 299 tourists had already travelled, generating 2 million baht.

She said the local market prefers independent travel, so new tourism stimulus measures via tour packages might not effectively boost domestic trips.

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