Travel subsidy schemes to be extended by authorities
The remaining 4-billion-baht budget for the hotel subsidy scheme "We Travel Together" is enough for a new phase offering 1 million room nights, according to authorities, and the less popular campaign "Tour Teaw Thai" will be extended until the end of the year.
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor Yuthasak Supasorn said that after talks with domestic tourism operators this week, the agency will ask the National Economic and Social Development Council to extend the two stimulus programmes.
The fourth phase of We Travel Together ends in May and has recorded average traveller spending of only 1,200 baht per night out of a maximum of 3,000 baht.
Total expenditure from this phase was 8.4 billion baht, of which 7.1 billion baht was for hotel rooms, 1.25 billion baht for food and drink via vouchers, and the remainder for air tickets.
The remaining budget from this phase will enable TAT to implement a fifth phase without asking for a new budget, said Mr Yuthasak.
However, the agency will also maintain vouchers and airfares embedded in We Travel Together as small businesses, particularly shops and restaurants, can benefit from this programme.
Mr Yuthasak said TAT will ask hotel operators to help give a 50% discount for an additional 1 million room nights. If hotels agree, there could be 2 million room nights in total for the fifth phase of We Travel Together.
However, discounts from hotels will not include flight and voucher redemption.
Meanwhile, the tour subsidy programme which ends in April still has 131,415 remaining privileges, prompting tour operators to ask for an extension until the end of the year.
A few modifications to Tour Teaw Thai have been proposed, such as allowing tourists to purchase three packages, from only one in the current phase, and resetting the quota for companies that had already sold 1,000 packages, which was the maximum set for each company.
There are expected to be 52.7 million domestic trips in the first half of this year, generating 240 billion baht.
Mr Yuthasak said the stimulus extensions are essential to encourage an additional 107 million domestic trips contributing 415 billion baht in the second half. The Tourism and Sports Ministry's target for 2022 is 160 million domestic trips generating 656 billion baht.
"As we still have to face economic challenges from soaring commodity and fuel prices, as well as tourism policies from other countries that are starting to lure Thai travellers, the subsidy campaigns should be prolonged to support purchasing power," said Mr Yuthasak.