Little impact from extending stays
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Little impact from extending stays

Extending the length of stay for all markets enjoying visa exemptions may not create much impact except for long-haul markets, while the government might have to hike costs to look after foreign tourists, say hoteliers.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) proposed extending the length of stay for 56 nationalities eligible for 30-day stays.

The proposal follows a government initiative to allow Russians to stay up to 90 days until April, along with a temporary visa-waiver for citizens of China, Kazakhstan, India and Taiwan.

Suksit Suvunditkul, president of the southern chapter of the Thai Hotels Association (THA), said the extension will attract long-haul tourists from Europe to stay longer than two weeks during winter, which is the high season for these markets.

Mr Suksit said tourists may plan to visit more provinces during their trip, hopping from Phuket to Krabi and Phangnga by spending a week in each.

He said hotels may not see a significant increase in room nights as tourists are expected to roam around different destinations, while some might even choose apartments and condos instead of hotels.

Mr Suksit said the scheme might not be able to lure short-haul markets, such as China or Southeast Asia, as they normally travel for a few days but with many trips per year.

Chairat Rattanopas, president of the Eastern Spa and Wellness Association, said even though the scheme would increase tourism spending, tourists might eventually have to squeeze their daily budget to stay longer.

He said the scheme might benefit remote workers or businessmen rather than leisure tourists.

Moreover, the issue is how the government would balance the income with costs incurred from tourists' consumption as they don't pay other taxes apart from VAT, which is included in food or accommodation fees, said Mr Chairat.

For instance, using power resources at the subsidised price that the government provides to locals.

He said the government should start collecting a tourist tax, since the mechanism could be allocated to other developments in the country.

Given the government targets 2.5 trillion baht tourism revenue from foreign markets, Mr Suksit said the goal is challenging amid global economic uncertainty and wars.

He said the government should rather prioritise enhancing tourism safety and boosting flight capacity.

To drive more revenue, Mr Chairat said the government should lure high quality tourists by promoting wellness and local community tourism, which have been trending after the pandemic.

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