Digital firm to aid TAT
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Digital firm to aid TAT

Looking for strategic partners in venture

Visitors pose for photos in front of the artwork titled
Visitors pose for photos in front of the artwork titled "Hold Onto Your Bitcoin" by Gustav Szabo, also known as Szabotage, at the Digital Art Fair Asia in Hong Kong on Oct 3, 2021. (Photo: Bloomberg)

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) aims to establish a private digital company in the next six months to support its digital transformation and help in generating 2.4 trillion baht from high-spending travellers by 2023.

TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the authority would be limited to a 40% share of the new company so it would not be considered a state enterprise, which can cause plenty of obstacles.

Being a private firm also means it can recruit more professional manpower by offering attractive salaries, aiming to drive Thai tourism towards digitalisation, he said.

Another 40% share of ownership will be held by strategic partners in digital fields, while key tourism associations would be able to hold a 20% share, said Mr Yuthasak.

He said digital asset exchange firms like Bitkub and Zipmex have showed interest in partnering in this kind of company.

This model would have a similar structure to the Thailand Longstay Company, which was established in 2001 to offer privileges to long-stay guests. The TAT has a 30% share in this firm.

Mr Yuthasak said the initial registered capital might be 100 million baht. Capital expenditure would rely on its annual objectives, but the company should reach the break-even point by 2024, the same year when tourism is expected to rebound, he said.

The key missions for the venture are to develop digital infrastructure for tourism, create big data for the industry, and launch utility tokens under TAT Coin or non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that cannot be used for trading.

Mr Yuthasak said the Securities and Exchange Commission already approved the idea of the TAT Coin, which is similar to an e-voucher, but conducted via blockchain.

In addition to TAT Coin, the authority wants to introduce a "tourism metaverse" or a virtual world under "TAT World – The Amazing World" to stimulate a digital tourism strategy.

If the scheme receives cabinet approval, the digital company could be established within six months, he said.

The TAT plans to focus on both responsible, digital tourism for potential travellers. Targets include wealthy global citizens, high-skill professionals and millennials.

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