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TAT governor says tourism sector must learn lessons from pandemic

Maya Taylor

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TAT governor says tourism sector must learn lessons from pandemic | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Cristiano Pinto on Unsplash
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The governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand says the sector must take on board the lessons of Covid-19, including the need to shift to a “value over volume” tourism model. Yuthasak Supasorn says, should a second wave of Covid-19 engulf the world in 2021, effective risk management will be crucial in overcoming the challenges thrown up by the outbreak.

He points to the fact that most tourism-related businesses, in particular airlines, are facing the prospect of bankruptcy. Looking at the TAT’s most optimistic forecast for 2021, which assumes a vaccine will be available from the beginning of the year, and that foreign tourists will return in the second quarter without prompting a Covid outbreak, it’s hoped over 20 million tourists would visit Thailand, which is nearly half that of 2019. They would generate around 980 billion baht, again half that of 2019.

The TAT expects that, in 2021, over 16 million foreign visitors will come from the Asia-Pacific region, with Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas accounting for nearly 4 million arrivals. Yuthasak anticipates that the number of domestic trips taken by locals will increase 10% from 2020, generating around 570 billion baht for the economy. He says areas within driving distance of Bangkok are likely to be the first to benefit, adding that local tourists will consist primarily of Thai citizens (80% of whom are expected to be from Bangkok), expats, and workers from the commercial and state sectors.

“Senior tourists used to be the target group for our industry. But with this new-normal model, high-value tourists with good health will be our first priority.”

The Bangkok Post reports that the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index currently ranks Thailand 88 out of 140 countries for health and hygiene, and 111 out of 140 for safety and security. The TAT hopes to use the lessons learnt from the pandemic, including the need for a more sustainable tourism model, to improve those rankings.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Thai cabinet adds 2 more 4-day long weekends

The Thaiger

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Thai cabinet adds 2 more 4-day long weekends | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Meandering Tales

A holiday-led economic recovery. That appears to be a part of the government’s agenda following yesterday’s meeting of the Thai cabinet. 2 new holiday weekends have been created, one in November, one in December, in efforts to further stimulate the economy. In both cases the extended weekends will be 4 days each, adding the Thursdays and Fridays before the weekend.

Tip: Book any flights early to get the best discount on tickets if you intend to fly anywhere for the newly scheduled long weekends.

Given the exodus of foreigner this week, there will be fewer of the ‘stranded’ expats and foreign visitors to add to the economic tally of the additional holidays.

The 2 long weekends have now been approved and Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha specifically noted that they were intended to stimulate local tourism. A similar 4-day long weekend at the start of this month was a relative success encouraging Thais to go on short breaks, but it did little for the the mostly deserted tourist streets of Phuket, Pattaya and Koh Samui.

The 2 new long weekends were proposed by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports.

In November there will be an extended 4 day weekend which will run from November 19-22 with the Thursday and Friday declared special holiday. The break will fall in the middle of the scheduled school term break between November 13 and December 1. The term break was pushed forward due to the late start of the school term because of the Covid-19 situation in Thailand the late return to class by students.

The school break was pushed back from next month to November due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced the current school term to start late.

The second new holiday, in December, will be Thursday, December 10 – Sunday, December 13. Constitution Day falls on December 10 and the annual Father’s Day holiday on December 5 has now been pushed back to the following Friday, to create the extended weekend.

So, put it in your diaries…

• November 19-22

• December 10-13

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Thai hotels concerned extra holidays may not benefit all

Maya Taylor

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Thai hotels concerned extra holidays may not benefit all | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Katie Musial on Unsplash

As the Cabinet confirms two additional long weekends in November and December, the country’s hotels are concerned that not all operators will benefit. The extra holidays, running from November 19 to 22, and from December 10-13, are being introduced to further boost domestic tourism. Although they have been given a cautious welcome by hotel operators, the Thai Hotels Association points out that some properties will benefit more than others.

The Bangkok Post reports that the THA is concerned about domestic tourists’ ongoing purchasing power, due to a number of holiday weekends taking place recently, including the Songkran replacement holidays in July and again earlier this month. The association says there’s a chance only those who can afford another trip will travel during the November and December holidays, and their spending power means they’re more likely to book higher end, 5-star properties.

THA president, Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, says not everyone will be able to afford air tickets, in addition to hotel accommodation and the cost of leisure activities at their destination. If only the wealthier can travel, they are also more likely to favour luxury accommodation.

“When luxury hotels have more affordable prices after enrolling in domestic stimulus campaigns, tourists who still have strong purchasing power will pick these hotels first.”

Marisa adds that with all properties sharing the same small pool of target customers, namely Thai citizens and expats, competition is tough. She is calling on the government to provide additional incentives to help operators outside of the luxury, 5-star category. The THA acknowledges that the November and December holidays are likely to provide a boost for hotels in the north of the country, which is usually popular during the winter season.

During the recent holidays, hotel bookings were up 20 – 30%, with some hotels enjoying a 40% increase due to their location. Marisa says the huge slump in international tourists means properties are now relying on government conferences and seminars to make up some of the shortfall. However, the delay in budget spending from October will have a negative impact.

“Hotels should have higher bookings from state agencies for October, but the delayed budget has stagnated this segment.”

With most operators still struggling with debts, the THA is calling on the Finance Ministry to extend the debt moratorium and to create a tourism fund whereby hotels can use their shares to avail of loans, re-purchasing the shares once financial stability returns.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Work permits for top tier Thailand Elite Card members

Caitlin Ashworth

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Work permits for top tier Thailand Elite Card members | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thailand Elite

In an effort to give the economy an extra boost, the government will discuss adding work permit privileges for top tier Thailand Elite Card members who invest a minimum of $1 million USD in Thailand.

The scheme will draw more investment to Thailand, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, or TAT, governor Yuthasak Supasorn. While the types of investments are up to the members, the government recommends property investment. The property sector was hit hard during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Thailand Elite members are on Elite Visas for 5 to 20 year stays. The website says the goal of the program is to “encourage more tourists to come over and stimulate the Kingdom’s bustling tourism industry, as well as to attract more foreign capital to boost the economy.”

There are 9 membership categories for the Thailand Elite Card. Members get privileges like expedited immigration lines at the airport and limousine pickup at the airport. Only those in the top tier categories, costing 1 to 2 million baht, plus a minimum investment of $1 million USD within 1 year, will be eligible for the new work permit.

Member applications have been at a record high over the past 2 months with a monthly average of 300 to 500 applications, according to Somchai Soongswang, the president of Thailand Privilege Card which operates the Thailand Elite Card scheme.

In August and September, 200 applicants were approved each month. Before the pandemic, only 100 memberships were approved per month. It takes 15 to 45 days to have the membership approved. Members must be screened through the Immigration Bureau, and some also need to pass additional screening through national intelligence agencies.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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