Tonic sought for tourism employees

Tonic sought for tourism employees

The Association of Thai Travel Agents (Atta) has urged Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to extend the Social Security Fund (SSF) compensation payments to workers for longer than 90 days to mitigate hardship from the Covid-19 pandemic, as it may haunt tourism for over a year.

Atta president Vichit Prakobgosol said a meeting was recently held after Gen Prayut sent a letter to the association requesting a direct briefing on the tourism industry with stakeholders.

At the one-hour meeting, the Atta reported Thai tourism is set to suffer from hardship for at least one year as the European market will remain lacklustre for that period.

Meanwhile, Chinese and Southeast Asian travellers are tied down by travel restrictions which may last for months, depending on how each country control the pandemic. But under the current aid scheme, the compensation payment from the SSF is capped at 90 days, which is not expected to cover the losses the industry is facing.

During the meeting, Gen Prayut reportedly focused on the 4 million people working in the tourism sector who are affected by the outbreak. The Atta said that while operators are working to keep staff on board, the biggest problem right now is liquidity.

While the government has already provided financial aid like the 10 billion baht in soft loans to small and medium-sized enterprises, that aid will be insufficient if the crisis extends beyond three months.

"We urged Gen Prayut to consider extending compensation payments to our workers and raise the budget for soft loans to tourism operators as market sentiment in the foreseeable future is still unfavourable," a senior source at Atta said.

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