Embattled tourism sector to get lifeline from the government

PHOTO: The government is mulling measures to help Thailand's struggling tourism sector

Thailand’s government is prepared to throw a lifeline to tourism operators ravaged by the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, in the form of soft loans, tax incentives and training in return for income. Relief measures are urgently needed to protect tourism operators, according to Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak. State agencies have been tasked with proposing measures to the cabinet, which he says should be rolled out by March.

The impact of the deadly virus on tourism has been devastating and the government is concerned because the sector comprises a significant portion of the economy, Somkid said after chairing a meeting with Finance Ministry officials to brainstorm solutions.

“Measures would include covering costs and boosting income. Both monetary and fiscal measures will then be needed to alleviate the impact over the next 3-4 months.”

“Tax measures should be established to help business owners take care of employees.”

The ministries of Labour, Tourism and Sports, and Social Development and Human Security, will hold joint training courses related to sustainable tourism development for freelancers affected by the epidemic.

“We must offer tourism operators training courses to earn some income. They can take short courses to gain knowledge and generate income.”

Somkid says the Finance and Tourism and Sports ministries must design projects to boost domestic tourism. Those who sponsor domestic travel for their parents will be allowed deduct such expenses from personal income tax, he says, while the Finance Ministry and the Bank of Thailand have been assigned to jointly come up with relief measures for struggling tourism operators.

Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana said the ministry will offer soft loans and seek ways to alleviate the burden of regular expenses like credit card loans and utilities for tourism-related operators.

The ministry will issue tax measures to enable tourism operators to keep hiring staff, while it will stimulate domestic travel through the Chim-Shop-Chai (Eat-Shop-Spend) scheme.

In another development, Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) executive vice-president Somkiat Kimawaha said the bank stands ready to inject 34.4 billion baht in cash for recapitalisation of local village funds if the government’s policy is cleared.

Somkid earlier ordered the BAAC and Government Savings Bank (GSB) to pump 1 million baht each into 77,000 village funds to enable communities to invest in infrastructure. Of that total, 42,600 are under the responsibility of GSB and the rest under the state-backed Farm Bank.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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