A leading Pattaya hotelier called on Thailand’s next government to extend its tourism-subsidy scheme to boost domestic travel.
Yuwathida Jeerapat, managing director for J Pattaya Hotel Group, said there is “no doubt” that the “We Travel Together” program introduced in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic, has benefitted domestic tourism.
The last round of funding, called We Travel Together’s “fifth phase”, cost the government 2 billion baht and began in March and is scheduled to continue through Dec. 31.
Under the scheme, the government provides subsidies equivalent to 40% of room rates, capped at 3,600 baht a room a night. A total of 560,000 room subsidies will be available, each with a 600-baht voucher for travelers to spend on food or services. The offer ends at the end of the year or when all rooms are booked.
The discounts are available only to Thai nationals.
Yuwathida said if the program is not continued, many Thais will choose to travel overseas instead, hurting domestic travel and hotels.
She said Thai tourists are still much needed as foreign tourism hasn’t recovered. Few of the guests at J Hotels are Europeans or Chinese, who, Yuwathida said, spend more money than the current guests, who are mostly Malaysians and South Koreans.
Chinese tourists are coming again, but still have not high enough numbers to boost profits, Yuwathida said.
She called on the Tourism and Sports Ministry to continue to push domestic travel and work with the Transport Ministry, Airports of Thailand Plc. and the Royal Thai Navy – which manages U-Tapao-Rayong-Pattaya International Airport – to work together to develop the tourism industry and ensure safety.
She also wants the next government to solve the lingering labor problem. Hotels lost half their employees during the pandemic and most have not returned, either from neighboring countries or from upcountry.