Authorities prepare New Year blessings

Authorities prepare New Year blessings

(Bangkok Post graphic)
(Bangkok Post graphic)

The Tourism and Sports Ministry will submit to the cabinet on Tuesday three requests for measures aimed at encouraging domestic and foreign tourists.

The move is aimed at boosting tourism revenue to 10.5 billion baht over the long New Year's holiday, as the three measures will be in effect from Dec 31 to Jan 3.

They comprise waiving ATM withdrawal fees for commercial banks nationwide, extension of skytrain service until 2am instead of midnight and free WiFi nationwide from mobile operators AIS, DTAC and True.

Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul predicts tourism revenue during the long weekend will grow by 13% to 10.5 billion baht with these measures.

Together with these holiday gifts, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) plans to organise a New Year countdown at Wat Arun that is expected to draw 10,000 visitors, along with seven countdown events in Bangkok and other major provinces.

Last year the government also waived ATM withdrawal fees for Thais, costing commercial banks 70 million baht in fee revenue.

Industry Minister Atchaka Sibunruang said her ministry planned to host trade fairs in several locations nationwide to sell consumer goods and promote products from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

"The fair should bring leading SMEs and consumers to meet each other and allow low-income earners to buy goods at cheaper prices," she said.

The trade fairs are expected to be held in Chiang Mai, Nakhon Ratchasima, Lampang and Bangkok.

Ms Kobkarn said the "Discover Thainess" tourism campaign would continue to boost Thai tourism next year.

"We're worried about the competitiveness of Thai tourism after full Asean liberalisation at year-end," she said.

"Maintaining leadership in the regional tourism market is not easy, as neighbouring countries are also seriously focusing on tourism."

This year, tourism revenue is expected to exceed the ministry's target of 2.2 trillion baht.

The ministry is maintaining its target of 2.3 trillion baht next year, focusing on distributing tourism revenue to communities by promoting domestic travel.

TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn plans to add 500 million baht to the domestic marketing budget for fiscal 2017 starting next Oct 1.

The TAT set a domestic tourism revenue goal of 802 billion baht for 2016, up from 800 billion this year.

It hopes to achieve overall tourism revenue of 2.5 trillion baht in 2017 -- 900 billion from domestic travel and 1.6 trillion from foreign tourists.

The Thai Retailers Association (TRA) has proposed the government boost foreign tourists' spending by waiving value-added tax (VAT) for them and increasing the number of duty-free shops in Bangkok.

TRA executive director Chatrchai Tuongratanaphan said the VAT measure could be either a refund at the point of sale or zero VAT charged on sales to foreign tourists for a minimum purchase amount.

Bangkok duty-free shops should have pickup counters in international airports operated by neutral corporate entities and offered on equal terms to all tourists, he said.

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