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“We Travel Together” campaign may be extended through 2020

Jack Burton

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“We Travel Together” campaign may be extended through 2020 | Thaiger
PHOTO: Samui Times

The “We Travel Together” government stimulus campaign may be extended to increase domestic tourism through to the end of the year, while travel bubbles for tourists will hopefully be launched by October, according to the Tourism and Sports Ministry. Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn. He says the slow start of the scheme, launched July 15, can be partly attributed to hesitation among tourists as they await more privileges in the campaign’s second phase.

Phiphat says there’s a chance of extending the booking and redemption period to the end of 2020, which would cover the high season, leaving the door open for those who still want to travel. He says he plans to discuss the idea of launching the second phase of the campaign, focusing on weekdays and second-tier provinces, with PM Prayut Chan-o-cha early next week.

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration has announced 4 groups of international tourists who will be allowed to visit the country beginning August 1… medical tourists, film crews, Thailand Elite cardholders and exhibitors.

“We have to wait until August 15 to see if there are any problems 2 weeks after allowing the first batch. I’m confident the travel bubbles scheme for tourists from low-risk countries will take place by October.”

In reality the travel bubble options could be short list of countries whose citizens may, or may not, be inclined to want to visit Thailand at this time. The conditions and restrictions put on these travel bubble tourists will also reflect their willingness to visit Thailand. For now, likely travel bubble candidates could include regional low-risk countries like Taiwan, China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar. Perhaps Singapore and Japan. Beyond that it’s difficult to see long-haul flights to Europe, for example, becoming affordable whilst the demand is so low.

Travel and tourism businesses are eager for the travel bubble scheme for foreign leisure tourists to begin, as domestic tourism stimulus plans have so far met with a tepid response.

The government is offering the “Moral Support” campaign, worth 2.4 billion baht, which will allow 1.2 million health volunteers and officials of subdistrict hospitals to travel with a budget of 2,000 baht per tourist. The governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand says tour operators will receive a payment within 7 days of hosting trips and providing evidence.

As of yesterday, 986 registered tour agents had joined the campaign, with 236 of 1,563 tour packages approved by the Tourism Council of Thailand. Operators can propose their tour packages to the agency until August 5.

The TAT says the agency will discuss providing optional identity verification for some 200,000-300,000 health personnel who don’t have smartphones, as the scheme requires QR code scanning for identification during trips.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Thursday, July 30, 2020 at 3:02 pm

    Huh, no takers, even though they give Thais discounts.
    Give felangs discounts and you might see some business.
    I suppose due to the massive work restrictions this government has imposed in the name of virus prevention, Thais just do not have money for vacations.

  2. Avatar

    CHE

    Thursday, July 30, 2020 at 4:47 pm

    “The conditions and restrictions put on these travel bubble tourists will also reflect their willingness to visit Thailand. For now, likely travel bubble”…
    This can’t be serious.

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Economy

2 emergency decrees provide businesses financial help

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2 emergency decrees provide businesses financial help | Thaiger
PHOTO: 2 Decrees aim for financial relief for struggling businesses

Thailand enacted 2 new emergency decrees today aimed at providing assistance to businesses and reducing default interest rates to help people affected by Covid-19. A deputy government spokeswoman confirmed the needed action was critical to protect and aid entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises during the time of pandemic-driven economic crisis.

The goal was to combat unfair interest rates on debt many are suffering, and to provide loans to help keep businesses afloat as the end of the Coronavirus is nowhere in sight.

The Emergency Decree on the Provision of Financial Assistance for Entrepreneurs Affected By the Covid-19 Pandemic allocates 250 billion baht in loans for businesses to recover from the devastating economic effects of the global pandemic. 100 billion baht of this is specifically set aside for those businesses in debt to participate in asset warehousing or debt repurchasing plans.

Asset warehousing allows businesses, like hotels, to essentially store their property in the care of a creditor for a fee until the economy recovers enough to take over the property again and start making money with it again. Debt repurchasing is a process for a business to buy back its own debt with better terms or a lower rate with the purchase price considered a payment to the principal debt not the interest, similar to refinancing a home.

The second of the emergency decrees, an amendment to the Civil and Commercial Code, looks to close loopholes caused by ambiguity in the law that allowed predatory creditors to charge unreasonable interest rates.

If someone missed a loan payment, the original law did not set a default rate, so lenders could charge additional interest. Debtors can now base default rate calculations on the unpaid principal in the updated law. The new decree sets a 3% yearly interest rate and lowers the default rate to 5% a year from the originally 7.5%. The Finance Ministry declared interest rates would be revised every 3 years.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Pattaya

Unemployed elephants walk 500 kilometres from Pattaya to Surin

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Unemployed elephants walk 500 kilometres from Pattaya to Surin | Thaiger
PHOTO: Elephants walking down the road because their car is in the shop.

A group of 5 elephants and their owners began the long walk today from Pattaya to Surin after giving up on the return of tourism anytime soon. The 500 kilometre journey has to be done on foot as they couldn’t afford to hire trucks large enough to carry each elephant.

After waiting a year for the Chinese tourists that make up a majority of their customer base to return, the families decided to embark on the long journey with the 5 elephants to their home in the northeastern province of Surin. As they walk they’re protected on both sides by pickup trucks to keep them safe from cars.

5 years ago Napalai Mai-ngam came with her relatives to work in an elephant resort in Tambon Lam Huay Yai of Bang Lamung near Pattaya with their 5 elephants. They told the Bangkok Post that their earned a good living, about 75,000 baht (15,000 per elephant) plus tips from the tourists to ride elephants on nature trails, each month.

But with the borders closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic the tourists from China who usually flocked to elephant activities, were stuck back in China and Napalai’s boss had to cut their pay. Even with vaccinations finally underway, tourists in numbers, enough to sustain activities like elephant camps, may not be back anytime soon. The families finally had to surrender to the reality and start the long walk home.

They avoid the blistering Thai sun by walking early mornings while the weather was still cool, and hope the roadways out of Pattaya would provide snacking opportunities for the elephants to graze. They expect the journey to take about 2 weeks. The families have turned down offers of cash donations for fear that their long walk will be viewed as a publicity stunt.

That said, the families have expressed gratitude to the locals in towns they pass who have donated drinking water, food and fruit to the entourage of people and elephants. If you would like to donate resources you can contact them on phone number 093 335 7062.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Economy

Southern Thai people turn from tourism to gold panning

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Southern Thai people turn from tourism to gold panning | Thaiger
PHOTO: Traditional panning for gold replaces tourism for income in Southern Thailand

Thars gold in dem hills!

With tourism in Thailand struggling due to Covid-19, and an economy needing some help, some people in the southern Thai region of the country have found income in an unusual source: panning for gold. The Sukhirin region close to the Malaysian border is known for gold deposits in the Sai Buri River and surrounding mountains. Villagers who made money before with tourism have now returned to panning for gold using old-fashioned manual techniques their ancestors used, without the aid of any machinery. Well, just an old pan.

Locals had previously made money selling food to passing tourists or acting as a tour guide to take people around the area, where travellers seeking to get away from the crowded and overdeveloped tourist areas that attract the most foreigners find many unique activities. Kayaking was a popular local activity with up to 150 people a day sailing down the rivers that are now filled with locals panning for gold. The prospectors are now making their income from the gold they collect which sells for 1,500 baht per gram. Families that work together can often collect at least one gram a day.

Thai Gold prices have reached record highs over the last 2 years and many Thai people have traditionally used gold and gold jewellery as a form of savings and investment, pawning their gold rings and bracelets in times of financial emergencies. The gold collected from these Southern villages will be used to make jewellery in Bangkok.

The region had invested in expanding into ecotourism but the pandemic put all their construction plans on hold. A cable car was being built to transport people up to the tops of the mountains to beautiful temples. The area’s unique history attracted people to their annual Rocket Festival, typically a north-eastern celebration.

In 1932, France was granted a 25 year mining contract in the jungles. They extracted almost 2000 kg of gold before World War II forced closure. The mining tunnels still exist and sometimes attracted adventurous tourists, but now sit vacant aside from snakes. In the 1960s the Thai government incentivised northerners with 18 rai of land each to move to the region. As a result, the area stands out in the Muslim region with 90% of the population being Buddhist, and most still speaking Isan dialects.

SOURCE: France 24

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