Uttama dangles cash boost for tourism

Uttama dangles cash boost for tourism

Former finance minister Uttama Savanayana
Former finance minister Uttama Savanayana

The newly formed Sang Anakhot Thai (Building Thailand's Future) Party on Monday unveiled its "Restart Thai Tourism" platform with a plan to set up a 20-billion-baht fund help the tourism industry get back on its feet after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Party co-founder Uttama Savanayana discussed the idea on his Facebook page following a meeting on Thursday between party representatives and the Tourism Council of Thailand to discuss how to revitalise the Covid-battered tourism sector.

In 2019 before Covid-19, Thailand earned three trillion baht from tourism with almost 40 million international tourists visiting the country. The number of foreign visitors dropped to 7 million in 2020 and to 400,000 in 2021.

Mr Uttama, a former finance minister, said the pandemic reportedly left some seven million people, both operators and workers, in the tourism industry in financial difficulty with between 70%-80% of employees believed to have been made jobless and several small- and medium-scaled operators forced to go under due to debts.

He said that during the meeting the Sang Anakhot Thai Party seized upon the "Restart Thai Tourism" slogan as it saw the pandemic as an opportunity to evaluate, rebuild and elevate the tourism industry.

With rich natural resources, Thailand was well positioned to use tourism as an engine to drive growth, said Mr Uttama, and the party's strategy would aim to upgrade facilities, procure new technologies and capture new markets in order to develop and build capacity during the rebuilding process process.

Mr Uttama said setting up a 20-billion-baht fund was the proper mechanism to implement the strategy and it would be part of an earlier discussed plan to set up a 200-billion-baht fund to develop the country's SMEs.

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