Tourism operators expect dull sentiment for the Songkran festival next month and are urging the government to offer more tourism stimulus plans in addition to a continuation of the existing subsidy programme.
Thanapol Cheewarattanaporn, president of the Association of Domestic Travel (ADT), said most people are planning visits to meet up with family members during Songkran rather than taking leisure trips because there is not a tourism measure to support weak purchasing power.
Moreover, the prohibition of activities such as water splashing and the use of powder paste are likely to erode spending sentiment, he said.
Mr Thanapol said the government must speed up the approval process for new tourism measures, especially the co-payment scheme that subsidises 50% of tour packages, capped at 3,000 baht for 2 million packages.
The association aims to arrange a meeting with the Tourism and Sports and Finance ministries to re-submit a plan by early next month.
Six months ago the ADT proposed a tourism package for senior travellers with a 5,000-baht subsidy, which has been adapted as part of the “Tour Teaw Thai” (Travel around Thailand) scheme for tourists of all ages.
The scheme is awaiting cabinet approval before its scheduled commencement in May.
According to the Tourism and Sports Ministry, local travellers took 4.51 million trips in January, generating 23 billion baht, representing declines of 63.7% and 75.3%, respectively, attributed to the new outbreaks in Samut Sakhon in December 2020.
A stagnant market forced 216 tour operators to withdraw their licences with the Tourism Department in January, followed by another 180 in February.
Mr Thanapol said even though most of the ADT’s 800 members are still operating, they appear closed because of the lack of tourism activity.
“Domestic tourism needs continuous and inclusive support to maintain its business. These tourism firms don’t know if they will survive, even if the borders reopen on Oct 1,” said Chamnan Srisawat, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand.
If the current subsidy scheme, which has been mired in fraud allegations, cannot be extended soon, the government should offer an alternative solution by April, he said.