Pattaya businesses urged to join tourist VAT refund program

Dr. Apiradi Kaewthien (right) of OSMEP explores local markets, promoting SME participation in Thailand’s tourism revival efforts through the VAT Refund for Tourists program.

PATTAYA, Thailand – In a bid to rejuvenate its tourism industry, Thailand is ramping up efforts to involve small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the VAT Refund for Tourists (VRT) program. The initiative was spotlighted during a conference held at the Amari Pattaya Hotel on March 28, where Dr. Apiradi Kaewthien, Deputy Director-General of the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion (OSMEP), emphasized the crucial role of SMEs in driving tourism and economic recovery.

Dr. Apiradi underscored the significance of tourism to Thailand’s economy, noting its contribution of 10 percent to the nation’s GDP. Despite the setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to a decline in international travel in 2020, the easing of travel restrictions and government policies aimed at revitalizing tourism have begun to yield positive results.

The VRT program stands as a pivotal measure aimed at stimulating tourist spending and bolstering income for entrepreneurs, particularly in vital tourist hubs. As the primary agency promoting SME development, OSMEP is actively promoting SME involvement in the VRT program, recognizing the potential for significant sales opportunities by leveraging the purchasing power of foreign tourists.

The primary objective behind encouraging SME participation in the VRT program, particularly in key tourist provinces, is to raise awareness among SME entrepreneurs regarding the program’s benefits, guidelines, and procedures. OSMEP believes that this initiative will not only broaden market opportunities for SMEs but also facilitate their integration into the formal economy.

Dr. Apiradi further demonstrated the government’s commitment to tourism stimulation and SME support by visiting various businesses in Pattaya to promote the campaign first-hand.

Dr. Apiradi Kaewthien (right) highlights the crucial role of the VRT program in boosting tourist spending and supporting entrepreneurs, emphasizing OSMEP’s proactive efforts to engage SMEs and capitalize on foreign tourists’ purchasing power.