The Tourism Authority of Thailand says the delay in extending the domestic travel stimulus scheme is hurting bookings over the western New Year period. The addition of 1 million room nights has been postponed while officials look into multiple claims of fraud. TAT and the Tourism and Sports Ministry have filed a police report against more than 500 hotels and other businesses, as TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn says travellers who hoped to avail of the scheme to book their New Year break may miss out.
Whilst the scheme was promising cheaper rooms for travellers, the existing OTAs (online travel agents) were often offering rooms at cheaper rates, even after the subsidy had been applied to the standard hotel room rates.
“The postponement definitely affects those who are planning trips for New Year celebrations, but we hope those who already booked hotel rooms via this campaign, which still has 3 million room nights where users have not checked in, will travel during the festive season as planned.”
Dumrongsak Kittiprapas from the Royal Thai Police says the Crime Suppression Division will form a new committee to investigate the fraud claims, with responsibility for local cases devolved to provincial police.
“To let the tourism scheme restart as soon as possible, the police will expand the investigation quickly. The swindlers, whether they are hotels, shops, or tourists, will face penalties under criminal law.”
The north of the country has already been battling a drop-off in domestic tourism as a result of the recent Covid-19 scare in the region. Meanwhile, it’s understood that New Year countdown events around the country, hosted by the TAT, will still go ahead, albeit with strict safety measures.
The TAT says there will be limits on how many can attend each event, with countdowns spread across different locations. People are advised to follow the usual safety measures of mask-wearing, social distancing, and frequent hand-washing or use of hand sanitiser.
“We have to boost confidence by convincing tourists that every province is safe for travel.”
Despite the latest hiccups, officials remain optimistic that domestic trips during the last 2 months of the year will reach the 15 million mark. Although that will mean a total of 100 million domestic trips taken this year, that’s still 72 million fewer than last year.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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