Call to expand tour subsidy scheme
Tour operators are urging the government to increase the quota for locals joining Tour Teaw Thai, a tour package subsidy, to stimulate more demand from frequent users.
Increasing the package quotas or allowing tourists to book many tour packages until their 5,000-baht subsidy is used up should help spark the tepid programme, said Chamnan Srisawat, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT).
He said tourists who prefer group tours are limited, but they tend to repeatedly purchase these kinds of services.
A higher quota will allow them to drain leftover privileges before the programme ends in April, said Mr Chamnan.
The remaining tour packages in Tour Teaw Thai, which subsidises 40% of the prices of such holidays, were cut to 200,000 from previously 1 million packages for 1 million tourists because of lukewarm feedback.
Only 29,506 tour packages have been sold, as of Feb 3.
Some tour operators have suggested increasing the quota for travel companies that are currently capped at 1,000 packages.
He said if the tour package subsidy ends with unimpressive results, TCT would like the government to consider subsidising 5,000 tour buses per month in five regions instead.
"The council should be involved to design measures that fully benefit operators," Mr Chamnan said.
Thanapol Cheewarattanaporn, president of the Association of Domestic Travel (ADT), said tourists should be granted at least three Tour Teaw Thai tour packages.
He said the ceiling on package sales for a tour company should be expanded to 3,000 as some operators have already reached the limit.
"Even though complicated rules cannot be changed to prevent fraud, the government should ease other rules to increase trips in a short period," Mr Thanapol said.
He said tour packages that can lure tourists include destinations in the North and Northeast, especially Naga Cave in Bueng Kan and Wat Kham Cha Not in Udon Thani, which locals visit to pray for luck or a lottery win.
New air routes are helping to spur domestic tourism, said Mr Thanapol, such as Bangkok to Roi Et from Thai Smile Airways and Bangkok to Betong in Yala from Nok Air.
ADT is encouraging members to promote Betong during the Songkran festival in April.