VAT refund offices proposed for shopping areas

VAT refund offices proposed for shopping areas

Weerasak Kowsurat, the new minister for tourism and sports, has proposed opening VAT refund offices for foreign tourists in shopping and downtown areas. (Supplied photo)
Weerasak Kowsurat, the new minister for tourism and sports, has proposed opening VAT refund offices for foreign tourists in shopping and downtown areas. (Supplied photo)

The Tourism and Sports Ministry has proposed setting up more VAT refund offices in shopping centres and downtown areas to encourage foreign tourists to buy more local products.

The scheme was floated by the new minister, Weerasak Kowsurat, who said that making it easier for foreign tourists to get the refunds they are entitled to would encourage them to shop for more.

This would boost the local economy.

Currently, VAT refund offices are located at each of the eight international airports nationwide operated by Airports of Thailand.

Tourists go through a process supervised by immigration police on departure to acquire their VAT refunds.

Mr Weerasak said if VAT refund offices were readily available at tourist spots and shopping areas, foreign visitors would be more likely to spend their refunds in Thai baht on more local products and street food.

“We proposed the Finance Ministry refund them in Thai baht. Even though some charges would be deducted from refunds, foreigners would be able to spend their money on street food, in local restaurants or shopping, which would directly benefit local vendors,” he said.

Mr Weerasak said he discussed the proposal with the finance minister, who agreed with it and suggested setting up a committee to work with the private sector on the issue.

He said 2-3 VAT refund offices would initially be  opened to get feedback from tourists for use in improving the service.

Mr Weerasak did not say when the proposal may be implemented.

Major department stores already offer on-the-spot VAT refunds for foreign tourists 


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