The highly popular “Rao Tiew Duay Kan” or translated in English as “We Travel Together” is not going to continue beyond its projected end date of April 30.
This is after the Cabinet of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha decided not to extend the domestic tourism stimulus package, in the face of widespread fraud and corruption by registered businesses.
However, Prime Minister Prayut issued instructions to both the Tourism and Sports Ministry as well as the Tourism Authority of Thailand to design a new stimulus package that will have checks in place to prevent similar fraudulent practices in the future.
The two agencies were also tasked to create new campaigns or packages that will help boost domestic tourism while the eventual return of international tourism is still vague.
The “Rao Tiew Duay Kan” stimulus package was launched in July of last year in an effort to keep the tourism industry afloat. During that time, extensive lockdowns in both Thailand and countries abroad have prevented foreign tourism from coming back to the Kingdom.
As the Kingdom’s economy is heavily reliant on tourism, there was a need to stimulate domestic tourism as an alternative source of revenues while foreign tourists were still barred from Thailand.
The campaign gave domestic tourists an opportunity to save up to 40% on their hotel and airfare expenses. Participating hotels, airlines and businesses will only charge 60% of their normal rates, while the government pays for the rest.
Initially, the government provided subsidies for up to THB3,000 per room night, with participants having the option to book up to five nights that will be subsidized by the government. Upon the extension into a second phase, the program now offered up to 10 nights of subsidized accommodation.
As for airfare, the campaign provided subsidies of up to THB3,000 or 40% of the price of the air tickets.
Participants can also make use of e-vouchers that they can use in other businesses related to tourism like restaurants. The e-vouchers are valued at THB600 from Friday to Sunday, and THB900 from Monday to Thursday.
Government spokesperson Anucha Burapachaisri said that the National Economic and Social Development Council has suggested to the Cabinet that the e-voucher system should be discontinued. The NESDC also suggested that there should be a new program with fraud checks in place to be designed by the Tourism and Sports Ministry.
The private sector criticized the decision by the Cabinet, stating that the Kingdom’s top officials should have weighed the economic impact of the “We Travel Together” stimulus package together with the possibility of fraud.
Thai Hotels Association northern President La-Iad Bungsrithong said that the government should fix or introduce fraud-preventing measures while continuing the campaign.
“It is not reasonable to postpone the extension this time just because the protective measures against fraud are not concise,” said Mrs La-Iad.
She added that the government must look at the “whole picture,” which means considering the local economy which tourism has a big contribution to.
Overall President of the THA Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi said that the subsidy is “vital” to the tourism industry.
“Even though international tourists may come back, the domestic market remains the key,” Mrs Marisa said.