Tour package subsidies must continue, urges travel industry

Tour package subsidies must continue, urges travel industry

Locals and tourists watch a sunset from Phuket Island's Phromthep Cape on April 9, 2022. (Reuters photo)
Locals and tourists watch a sunset from Phuket Island's Phromthep Cape on April 9, 2022. (Reuters photo)

The budget for the tour package subsidy scheme "Tour Teaw Thai" should be extended until October and there should be a new initiative to boost travel to secondary destinations, according to the Association of Domestic Travel (ADT).

Chaiyapruk Thongkam, the newly elected ADT president, said it was imperative to have a tourism stimulus scheme that can benefit tour operators and he plans to urge the government to use the remaining budget for Tour Teaw Thai, which is scheduled to end this month.

As of Tuesday, 67,233 of 200,000 Tour Teaw Thai packages had been sold.

Mr Chaiyapruk said the government should extend the deadline to October and increase the quota from one package per tourist to 2-3 packages each to let operators maintain competitive prices and improve demand during the low season.

New campaigns should also be introduced to support food and activity costs in second-tier destinations, including southern provinces such as Narathiwat, Yala, Pattani and Songkhla, to revive Betong tourism for the local market, he said.

Mr Chaiyapruk said the campaign should highlight provinces that tend to be stopover destinations during road trips, such as Phichit, Kamphaeng Phet and Tak, as well as northeastern provinces that have potential for the Mice (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) segment.

The ADT wants to arrange meetings with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau to design a tourism plan, before bringing proposals to the Tourism and Sports Ministry, he said.

Mr Chaiyapruk said if the pandemic eased, the TAT's domestic tourism goal of 160 million trips remains possible as there is a promising outlook for the peak season.

Tour operators have received inquiries for incentives and corporate trips at the end of the year as customers prefer to take domestic trips with full-service packages, rather than travelling abroad and facing inconsistent travel regulations, he said.

"Domestic tourism continues to be at the forefront as outbound travel is expected to grow at a slower pace due to higher travel costs and the economic slump. Meanwhile, preferred destinations for Thais such as Japan haven't yet reopened," Mr Chaiyapruk said.

Thanapol Cheewarattanaporn, former ADT president, said domestic tourism is the country's "bread and butter" and still needs government support. He said many community-based tourism and rarely visited destinations in the country could be promoted to the foreign market and domestic tourists.

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