The situation is critical: in Thailand, no one knows how to save tourism

The situation is critical: nobody in Thailand knows how to save tourism

A complex set of programs that should stimulate travel to the Kingdom do not work, but in places they contradict each other and can negatively affect tourism. In order to save tourism in Thailand, it is necessary to double-check and simplify them, and above all, to listen to the real needs of the tourism market. The appeal was made by a consortium of 12 tourism associations from across Thailand, who are demanding the government to ease current tourism incentive schemes, saying the situation is critical. Although the Thai authorities claim that they are implementing a large number of projects to save the industry, the tourism industry itself believes that they do not work. In any case, the tourist market does not see the result.

The key issue is that most of the current proposals “require the approval of other government agencies, many times requiring multiple agencies to work together to make the policy work,” said one expert. As an example, he cited a proposal to exempt visa fees and extend the validity of tourist visas and visas on arrival from 30 to 45 days. “Since visa fees are the main source of funds for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they are unlikely to support this proposal. The proposal for a tourist tax, which eventually became a tax on the arrival of foreigners, was not carefully thought out and had already been delayed for six months due to unforeseen problems with the collection of the 300 baht fee and a pushback from international airlines who believed that it it is not their duty to be tax collectors,” he said.

This is generally the case with numerous proposals made by tourism associations, the Tourism Authority of Thailand and even the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, they all the time run into the difficulty of coordinating with third departments. Much better government coordination and leadership is needed before launching proposals, the travel industry says.

In turn, the Prime Minister, responding to many ideas, stressed that the government has a limited budget and that they have already spent billions of baht on a number of incentive programs that have been successful in promoting tourism – we are talking about domestic tourism.

The tourist market once again drew attention to the problems on which the support program for some reason does not stop. For example, that the hospitality sector continues to experience a labor shortage as many of its past employees were either laid off during the pandemic or left the industry altogether. As a result, it has come to the point that Thai hoteliers are calling for easing hiring rules to allow migrants to fill vacancies.

In the meantime, officials are forced to correct optimistic forecasts. Tourism and Sports Minister Phiiphat Ratchakitprakarn acknowledged that total revenue “may be below the ministry's target of 1.5 trillion baht.” According to him, tourism revenue “was significantly affected by inflation and rising airfare.”

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