Cabinet okays extension of hotel subsidy scheme
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Cabinet okays extension of hotel subsidy scheme

Programme remains until September

Locals and foreign tourists enjoy the sunset at Promthep Cape in Phuket. (Photo: Sarot Meksophawannakul)
Locals and foreign tourists enjoy the sunset at Promthep Cape in Phuket. (Photo: Sarot Meksophawannakul)

The cabinet has acknowledged the extension of the fourth phase of the "We Travel Together" hotel subsidy scheme to assist the tourism sector.

Danucha Pichayanan, secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC), said the cabinet on Tuesday approved the extension of the fourth phase of the scheme, which will be extended until September from May 31, as ratified on May 6 by the Centre for Economic Situation Administration (CESA).

However, he said the cabinet has yet to decide on whether to add 1 million room nights to the campaign to help the tourism sector, as approved earlier by CESA.

The We Travel Together scheme was launched in July 2020 to stimulate local tourism, which was clobbered by the first wave of the pandemic.

Participants in the scheme paid 60% of normal hotel room rates, with the government responsible for the balance.

Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn said earlier the We Travel Together campaign would be funded by 4 billion baht remaining from the budget of previous phases.

However, Mr Danucha said the cabinet on Tuesday assigned the Finance Ministry and NESDC to settle a budget to be used for the scheme, as well as an appropriate period for the scheme's implementation.

He said the government may expand the room nights for the campaign to 1.5 million to stimulate domestic tourism.

According to Mr Yuthasak, after the budget from the latest phase is used up, there will be no further extensions of the We Travel Together scheme, in line with the policy of the Finance Ministry to not extend any subsidy schemes.

The extension should cover the whole period of the low season, which ends on Sept 30, he said.

Mr Yuthasak said the lack of stimulus during the final quarter will not affect the domestic market as this period is the high season and the tourism industry can pivot to international markets, which are predicted to be stronger.

In a related development, Deputy Prime Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow said on Tuesday the government might consider implementing additional measures to further stimulate the economy.

He said energy prices remain highly volatile because of the protracted Russia-Ukraine war and the economic sanctions against Russia by Western countries are likely to last for a long time.

Mr Supattanapong admitted the cost of living continues to rise because of higher costs for raw materials and increased production costs.

Economic agencies are scheduled to meet in early June to evaluate the situation, he said.

"The government needs to prepare ahead of time because existing aid measures and energy price subsidies to help alleviate consumers' hardship will expire in July," said Mr Supattanapong.

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