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Minister proposes 300 baht tourist levy

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It’s going to be challenging enough for both the Thai tourism industry and the travellers to get Thailand’s tourist wheels in motion again without a new levy being added as well. But now, the Tourism and Sports Ministry says they’re considering a new 300 baht tax from every foreign arrival. The reasoning is that the new levy would cover “pandemic insurance”.

Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, the tourism and sports minister, suggests that the proposed new tax would be for all arrivals, whether by air, land or sea transport.

Minister Phiphat reminded us that his idea was put up to cabinet last year but was delayed as the government were concerned by the already drooping demand for tourism, mostly because of the high exchange rate of the Thai baht and softening numbers of arrivals, especially the Chinese. But the minister says he believes that now is the right time to kick off the scheme.

Once a feasibility study is finished the proposal will go to cabinet with a plan to introduce the tax by the end of the year.

The ministry proposes that the 300 baht levy is added to the price of airline tickets and then collected from airlines. There is currently no proposal how they would collect the levy from arrivals over land or sea borders.

“The pandemic has had a severe impact on tourism confidence, and the tourism fund should set aside a budget for state agencies to carry on when looking after tourists affected by the pandemic.”

The minister says the tourism and sports ministry approached Naresuan University to conduct a feasibility study on a “reasonable tax burden for visitors”. The ministry estimates the maximum should not exceed 300 baht per person. But the minister says he favours a levy of 100-200 baht.

The minister also commented on the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s estimates yesterday that Thai visitors for 2020 would drop by 65%.

“The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s new target is 16 million arrivals this year, but I’m not optimistic we can reach that goal as international tourists will not come back before the fourth quarter. Compared with the last quarter of 2019, when we had 11-12 million arrivals, the new goal is too high amid these circumstances.”

Commenting on the proposed new levy the TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the ministry’s measures are part of the long-term tourism development plan.

“As long as Thailand has a clear plan on how to use the fund effectively and benefit international tourists, it should not create any obstacles.”

At this stage, when international flights may restart, the conditions imposed on travellers and which airlines will be operating into Thailand in the future, are all up in the air.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Elephant injures 2 Burmese men in Kanchanburi

Jack Burton

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Elephant injures 2 Burmese men in Kanchanburi | The Thaiger
PHOTO: ONBNEWS

2 Burmese men were attacked and critically injured by an elephant in a forest in the western province of Kanchanaburi’s Thong Pha Phum district last night, according to Thong Pha Phum National Park officials. They had only patchy details of the incident.

35 year old “Tun” and 60 year old “Ngae” had gone into the forest to pick mushrooms in tambon Huay Khayeng. They were returning home when they were attacked by an elephant. Both men were knocked to the ground. Tun was stomped on the chest and Ngae on one leg. Park officials and a rescue unit arrived at the spot around 9:30pm and first helped Tun out of the forest and rushed him to Thong Pha Phum Hospital.

They then returned to the forest and brought Ngae out sometime around 11.30pm. His left leg was broken and he was admitted to Phahon Phonphayuhasena Hospital in the town’s Muang district.

Park officials frequently warn people in the area to beware of wild elephants from Huay Khayeng and Ban Rai forests. Herds have been frequently sighted recently in the mountainous area, which borders Myanmar.

In April a man was killed in Chiang Mai in a similar incident, the second such occurrence in a week.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Central Thailand prepares for return of thousands of Burmese workers

Maya Taylor

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Central Thailand prepares for return of thousands of Burmese workers | The Thaiger
PHOTO: AFP/The Asean Post

The central province of Samut Sakhon is preparing for the return of over 5,000 migrant labourers from Myanmar over the next month. The workers had returned to their home country to obtain the required paperwork and officials now say their employers must take responsibility for their quarantine.

Employers are being asked to arrange accommodation to house the workers for the 14 day mandatory quarantine period, with Samut Sakhon governor Veerasak Vijitsaengsri expressing his confidence that the actions of employers and officials will mean there will be no further spreading of the Covid-19 virus among the migrant community.

Officials will no doubt be looking at the recent experience in Singapore, where the virus was thought to be under control until an outbreak in more than 20,000 of its migrant workers caused an unexpected “second wave”, with the city state regularly reporting over 1,000 new cases a day at one point. The country now has over 32,000 cases after having a total of exactly 1,000 cases on April 1.

Nation Thailand reports that around 600 companies based in Samut Sakhon will re-hire 5,400 workers from Myanmar after both the Thai and Myanmar governments signed a memorandum of understanding. These companies are now responsible for ensuring their employees fulfill the mandatory quarantine requirements.

Officials state that each worker should be provided with a room and private bathroom if possible, but where two workers must share a room, there must be at least one metre distance between the beds. Regular temperature checks are mandatory, as is the provision of hand sanitiser and face masks for all workers.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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4 new board members for THAI restructure, 1 has airline experience

The Thaiger

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4 new board members for THAI restructure, 1 has airline experience | The Thaiger

Four new board members for Thai Airways are the face of hope for the national airline as it addresses massive losses and restructuring. The airline’s business is now being addressed under the country’s Bankruptcy Act.

Piyasvasti Amranand, Pirapan Salirathavibhaga, Boontuck Wungcharoen and Pailin Chuchottaworn have joined the Thai Airways executive board. Piyasvasti served as the airline’s president from June 2009 to June 2012.

The four board members were hand-picked by Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, who said he needed “trustworthy people” to help guide the national airline to a more profitable future.

Last week the Thai cabinet approved a plan for the 60 year old airline to enter a court-sanctioned restructuring scheme under the country’s bankruptcy law. The plan for Thai Airways to borrow 54 billion baht to stay afloat in another government ‘bail out’ was met with widespread opposition, from government ministers, prominent businesspeople and social media. The airline has accumulated debts of 244 billion baht. The Covid-19 pandemic has also grounded most of its fleet, massively compounding the airlines’ already complex problems.

Also last week, the Stock Exchange of Thailand listed airline informed the SET that the Finance Ministry had sold 3.17% of its majority shareholding in the airline to the state-backed Vayupak Fund on May 22. This reduced the ministry’s stake from 51.03% to 47.86% control, stripping Thai Airways of its status as a state enterprise, providing more scope for the new board to restructure the airline and seek private financial assistance.

But the government technically retains a majority stake in the airline if the shares of the Finance Ministry, Vayupak Fund and Government Savings Bank are combined.

2 days ago the PM appointed a 9 member committee to handle the restructuring plan for the ailing airline, chaired by trusted sidekick Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam. The other members are mostly state officials, including the permanent secretaries of the Finance, Transport and Justice ministries as well as the secretary-general of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The four additional board members will help draw up a restructuring plan for the airline.

But critics are warning of potential built-in pitfalls stemming from numerous conflicts of interest. There is no ‘aviation’ expertise and the “jobs for the boys” criticism will not go away with the new board. They all have impressive backgrounds as senior executives in the private and public sectors.

The airline was already swimming in debt when one of the new board members, Piyasvasti Amranand, became Thai Airways president in 2009. He cut costs at the time by slashing salaries and jobs and reducing unnecessary expenditure. At the same time he was the person responsible for locking the airline into a major aircraft acquisition and starting up the subsidiary Thai Smile – originally meant to be competition for regional low-cost carriers but eventually morphed into a domestic offshoot for Thai Airways leaving the parent company mostly with the international routes.

The other new board members are all politically connected with Prayut and have served in his cabinets or as political advisors. They have all had extensive public service experience heading up multiple Thai enterprises.

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