Tourism fund meant to aid state agencies
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Tourism fund meant to aid state agencies

Money not intended for company loans

Tourists take photos of Wat Arun while cruising along the Chao Phraya River. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
Tourists take photos of Wat Arun while cruising along the Chao Phraya River. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

The tourism fund derived from collecting fees from foreign tourists would primarily be reserved for state agencies for tourism development, rather than private sector soft loans, according to the organisers.

Surawat Akaraworamat, vice-president of the Tourism Council of Thailand and a member of one of the fund's subcommittees, said the three subcommittees responsible for fee collection, management of the fund, and tourist insurance have been working to finalise the details of the project.

The groups want to have the fund ready when the government approves the project.

The panel responsible for fund management discussed this month the draft regulations regarding collection and disbursement.

The Office of the Council of State and the Comptroller-General's Department also took part in drafting the regulations, which he said should now be sufficiently clear to be published in the Royal Gazette.

In principle, the subcommittee agreed to allow state agencies to borrow from the fund for tourism development or promotional purposes, which could help support the industry, said Mr Surawat.

The objectives of the proposed projects must align with Section 24 of the National Tourism Policy Act, which states the fund can only be used as a subsidy or loan for government agencies, or as an expense for supporting education, research, training, meetings and public relations that would benefit the tourism industry.

The fund charges foreign visitors 300 baht for arrivals by air and 150 baht for arrivals by land or sea.

About 60 baht of the fee is allocated for tourist insurance.

Coverage for diarrhoea is included, with medical treatment of up to 2,000-3,000 baht, apart from compensation in the event of death or injury from an accident.

While some tourism operators suggested the fund be made available for soft loans during a crisis, such as the pandemic, during which most tourism operators were unable to access bank loans, Mr Surawat said the Tourism Policy Act might not allow using the fund for that purpose.

However, if a crisis were to occur in the future, government agencies could allocate funds from the tourism fund for a subsidy or loan to support the private sector, he said.

The fund committee would need cabinet authorisation to perform this manoeuvre, said Mr Surawat.

He said many tourism operators agree Thailand needs a tourism fund as the Tourism and Sports Ministry dissolved the Foreign Tourists Assistance Fund almost two years ago and there still is not another permanent mechanism to look after foreign tourists.

"With billions of baht in revenue every year, we can increase confidence in our tourism with a proper protection scheme and generate enough budget to help improve the competitiveness of the industry," said Mr Surawat.

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