Addition of 1 million hotel nights delayed as fraud detected in domestic travel scheme

PHOTO: Sumit Chinchane on Unsplash

The government’s plan to add 1 million hotel nights to its domestic tourism stimulus campaign has hit a snag, amid reports of fraud. Officials say irregularities have been detected in the transactions of around 514 hotels and other businesses registered with the scheme. The revelation comes as officials investigate allegations of fraud in the government’s co-payment scheme, “Let’s Go Halves” (Khon La Khrueng).

According to the Tourism and Sports Minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, the PM has ordered authorities to take action against those involved, to show that defrauding government schemes will not be tolerated. He says all businesses found guilty of such practices will be punished, adding that hotels that have fabricated bookings may have their licences revoked and be blacklisted from future campaigns.

According to a Bangkok Post report, Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand says that, while they have a list of the hotels suspected of fraud, the investigation is ongoing, with officials seeking to clarify the exact number of rooms involved. According to Yuthasak, the most common scam involves fabricated bookings, with hotels receiving a 40% subsidy from the government. Other properties are accused of increasing room rates to avail of a higher subsidy. In total, there are believed to be nearly 109,000 fraudulent transactions involving over 300 hotels, and nearly 50,000 involving 200 stores.

Meanwhile, Suksit Suvunditkul from Deevana Hotels and Resorts, and vice-president of the Thai Hotels’ Association southern chapter, says the delay in adding the 1 million rooms has resulted in potential guests holding off making reservations. He says future bookings are being affected by travellers waiting for the 40% subsidy to be made available. Suksit is calling on the government to press ahead with the additional rooms by early January, to boost demand during the traditional high season.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Maya Taylor

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