Industry welcomes tax breaks for travellers

Tourism businesses have applauded the government's proposal to offer tax incentives to local travellers to help stimulate the struggling industry.

"This measure will conform to the private-sector sector marketing plan which aims to focus on the domestic tourism market," said Charoen Wangananont, a spokesman for the Federation of Thai Tourism Associations (Fetta).

"Operators have now pinned their hopes on this market as several countries still maintain their travel advisories for Thailand," he said, referring to the sharp drop in foreign arrivals during and since the political unrest in April and May.

Mr Charoen said the government should allow people to deduct a maximum of 20,000 to 30,000 baht in travel expenses from personal taxable income. The figure would cover accommodation bills and package tours and other services related to tourism.

"We hope the government will come up with more stimulus plans to help the private sector, which was devastated the by recent riots," he said.

Another government proposal would allow Mice (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) participants to deduct twice their costs. However, Mr Charoen said this would help only hotels because it covered only rooms and food. "Tourism consists of many sectors," he said. "The incentives should cover other kinds of costs, otherwise it will not work."

Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij said stimulus measures were needed because the tourism industry contributes 6% of gross domestic product.

He proposes allowing individuals to use domestic travel expenses and hotel accommodation bills to claim tax rebates.

Currently, private organisations can claim meeting and conference tax rebates.

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