TAT readies local tourism stimulus

Visitors stroll along Bang Saen beach in Chon Buri province. The beach opened to the public on Monday after nearly two months of closure. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

Domestic tourism stimulus measures, including proposals for gift vouchers and cash handouts, are expected to be concluded next week, says Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor Yuthasak Supasorn.

The stimulus is likely to be disbursed from July to October, Mr Yuthasak said after a meeting with finance permanent secretary Prasong Poontaneat.

Apart from money and gift vouchers to boost domestic tourism, the TAT has proposed the government offer free outings to 1.2 million front-line healthcare workers who have battled the coronavirus, including doctors, nurses and village health volunteers.

According to local media reports, the TAT is seeking the Finance Ministry’s approval to give 3,000 baht to 4 million people for domestic travel, aiming to help local tourism operators.

Kasikorn Research Center recently predicted that the number of foreign tourism arrivals to Thailand in 2020 would sink 60% from a year earlier.

Tourism remains a government priority, as it is a labour-intensive industry with a workforce of 4 million and has borne the brunt of the outbreak’s impact.

Before the virus struck, the TAT predicted tourism receipts of 1.2 trillion baht this year, with 400-500 billion baht coming from local travellers.

Mr Yuthasak said the budget to finance the domestic tourism stimulus package should help improve the tourism industry’s outlook during the final quarter of the year.

More handout recipients

Mr Prasong said the Finance Ministry will offer a cash subsidy to an additional 9 million people affected by the pandemic, and they will be the last group to receive cash relief.

Of the total 9 million prospective recipients, 1.2 million are state welfare smartcard holders; 6.9 million are in vulnerable groups like the disabled, the elderly and infants; 300,000 did not complete registration for the 5,000-baht cash handout, as they failed to clear the identity authentication process; and the remaining 66,000 are those covered by the Social Security Fund’s Section 33 but are unqualified for jobless claims because they have made contributions for less than six months.

The royal decree for 1 trillion baht in public debt will fund the stipend for additional recipients, Mr Prasong said, adding that the cash relief will vary between recipients.

For example, the disabled could be entitled to less than 5,000 baht a month because they already receive monthly allowances from the government.

The government’s 5,000-baht monthly allowance during the three months to June is for temporary workers, contract employees and self-employed workers who are not covered by the Social Security Fund’s Section 33 and were affected by the outbreak and subsequent containment measures.

Some 15 million recipients have already received the allowance.