According to Minister of Tourism and Sports Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, the ministry will reduce the budget for a tour package subsidy program called “Tour Teaw Thai” by cutting 80% of the packages from 1,000,000 to 200,000, as the program has seen low demand.
Only 27,277 tour packages had been sold as of January 17. Only around 18,650 tourists had traveled with the program since “Tour Teaw Thai” opened for registration on October 8, 2021.
213 million baht has been spent, of which 82.4 million is supported by the government’s subsidy and the rest from tourists.
This prompted the ministry and the National Economic and Social Development Council to return the Tour Teaw Thai’s 4-billion-baht budget and reduce the number of tour packages to 200,000.
Phiphat said Thai tourists normally prefer domestic trips with family and friends rather than going with tours that they will be traveling with strangers. This also raises health concerns during the pandemic.
However, the ministry wants to continue the scheme, which will be extended from January 31 to April 30 if the 200,000 packages are sold out. Phiphat added that the remaining budget, which came from the 1-trillion-baht government loan, cannot be allocated for We Travel Together, a hotel and airline subsidy scheme, which is funded by the second 500-billion-baht emergency loan decree, due to different funding sources.
The fourth phase of We Travel Together will soon be submitted to the cabinet for approval. Phiphat said Songkran holidays will help the additional 2 million room nights be fully booked quicker.
Meanwhile, Thanapol Cheewarattanaporn, president of the Association of Domestic Travel, said tour operators would like the budget to remain the same, but want to simplify regulations such as the scanning process during trips and the approval process of each package on the website, which takes at least 21 days.
He said Tour Teaw Thai is the only program that offers opportunities to tourism operators besides hotels, while there will be no new stimulus to support the tourism industry after April, which is the beginning of the low season. (NNT)