Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-o-cha has undertaken extraordinary personal interaction with the Thai tourism industry to discuss the business impact of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and remedial measures for the kingdom’s top service sector and job-creation industry.
The Prime Minister recently went to the offices of both the Thai Hotels Association (THA) and the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) to meet their senior committee members. He was accompanied by the Secretary-General of the National Economic and Social Development Council, Mr. Thosaporn Sirisumphand, who is also Chairman of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
It was the first time in the history of Thai tourism that a sitting Thai Prime Minister has personally visited the offices of the two leading Thai tourism associations, rather than asking their committee members to come to see him.
The visits were part of a strategy to connect directly with nationwide stakeholders to understand their issues first-hand, especially those whose businesses involve small and medium sized enterprises and create grassroots jobs nationwide.
The move sent off important signals locally, regionally and globally of the weight that the Thai government is attaching to the travel and tourism industry, both in terms of alleviating the immediate impact as well as contributing to the long-term recovery when the clouds begin to lift.
Both associations were asked to provide input on measures to restore business as soon as possible, recommend ways the government could help in the short-term, and comment on the effectiveness of the numerous measures taken so far.
THA suggested the PM to look at building confidence in the health and safety of Thailand and have visitors undergo a COVID-19 check-up before travelling to Thailand. It also asked for the resumption of aviation to Thailand without any requirement for visitors to undergo a 14-day quarantine.
ATTA asked the PM to look at the health and safety issue, so Thailand would be safe and virus-free before reopening the doors to international tourists, and for VAT to be reduced from 7% to 3%, which would give inbound tourism the same privilege as product exports, as tourism also generates foreign exchange for the country.
ATTA also suggested a closure of the national parks and marine parks for at least 3-4 months annually to give nature time to rest and recover. It also called for better carrying capacity/capacity management controls at various Thai tourism destinations in order to create balance between nature/demand from tourists as well as the local people’s satisfaction.
The PM concluded both meetings by assuring them: “I shall do my best to integrate some of the items you have proposed into the various plans that are being prepared by the government. And I would like to ask that you please look after your staff during this time.”
The PM is holding a number of similar meetings with other trade associations representing critical sectors of the economy. (tatnews.org)