Elite card thrown one more lifeline

Elite card thrown one more lifeline

The government will be asked to allow trouble-ridden Thailand Privilege Card Co (TPC) to invest in related businesses or form a joint venture with other companies in a new move to enable it to stay afloat.

A source from Government House said the Tourism and Sports Ministry will soon submit the request to the economic steering committee chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong for consideration.

``The TPC should be allowed to become more flexible in carrying out its business and services,'' the source said.

``This will help it generate more income and settle its accumulated losses.''

The Elite Card was initiated by the Thaksin Shinawatra government in 2003 as a tool for promoting Thai tourism. But after years of losses and failing to reach its membership target of 1 million members, the project nearly died before the cabinet approved a plan to revive it last November.

TPC relaunched the Elite Card this past May with a new marketing strategy aimed at attracting more Asian and Russian customers.

Unlike the original card, which offered lifetime memberships for a one-time fee of 1 million baht, new memberships will be 20 years for 2 million baht.

Members are eligible to transfer their membership rights only one time, and an annual fee of 20,000 baht is also charged.

However, as of June this year, TPC has only 2,535 cardholders, all of them lifetime members, mainly businessmen and foreign investors.

The source said as of May, the company had only 53.9 million baht in cash, with total assets worth 94.8 million baht. TPC reported liabilities of 590.85 million baht and accumulated losses of about 1 billion.

The company is now fully owned by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, with 1 billion baht of registered capital, 500 million of which was paid up.

Related ministries and state agencies such as the Transport Ministry, Foreign Ministry and the National Economic and Social Development Board agreed with the proposal, said the source.

The Finance Ministry also agreed TPC needs more flexible management.

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