Government plots duty-free paradise

Government plots duty-free paradise

Seeks ways to boost spending by tourists

File photo
File photo

The government has initiated a study aimed at transforming Thailand into a duty-free paradise, a crucial step in positioning the country as a prime tourism and shopping hub.

The measure includes the cancellation of setting up arrival duty-free shops to encourage tourists to shop more within the country.

The cabinet on Tuesday agreed in principle to five core measures proposed by the Ministry of Finance aimed at bolstering the country's status as a premier destination for tourism and shopping, government spokesman Chai Wacharonke said on Tuesday.

The first measure is aimed at encouraging domestic spending among locals and international tourists by offering them more tax and financial benefits, said the spokesman. Among the products likely to be promoted under this measure are locally made perfumes, clothes and fashion bags, he said.

The second measure deals with the proposed restructuring of excise tax to make certain types of products more appealing in terms of price, he said, adding that their prices will possibly become cheaper than the same products sold in other countries, he said.

The third measure concerns a proposal to cancel the establishment of duty-free shops on arrival to encourage greater shopping among international visitors during their stay in Thailand. Duty-free shops in departures will remain.

The fourth measure deals with a proposal to relax opening hours at night entertainment venues in important tourist districts, he said.

The Ministry of Interior was assigned to study further how to raise tourism-related income with the help of this measure, he said.

For the fifth measure, the Foreign Affairs Ministry was assigned by the cabinet to study the possibility of extending the visa-free policy to cover visitors from more countries, he said.

The Ministry of Finance will look at how to attract more foreign tourists to Thailand to buy brand-name products here, for instance, while products on the shelves of arrival duty-free shops could possibly be changed from imported products to Thai products, he said.

These ministries are expected to come up with detailed findings from their assigned studies and report to the cabinet early next year, said Mr Chai.

"These measures to support Thailand becoming a tourism and shopping hub are part of the government's economic stimulation policies," he said.

Since the touted measures will likely lead to both a loss in tax revenue and a rise in domestic spending in the tourism industry in particular, an exact estimation of the foreseen loss and income is required before a final decision is made on them, he said.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has also instructed the Ministry of Tourism and Sports to ratchet up the fight to contain fake news spread online about Thailand, which has been impacting the country's tourism, said Mr Chai.

Also, the ministry was instructed to find a way to strike a good balance in tourism income and deficits between Thailand and Malaysia, said Mr Chai, adding that the instruction followed the PM's meeting with his Malaysian counterpart on Monday.

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