Government’s domestic tour package subsidy receives lukewarm response

Government’s domestic tour package subsidy receives lukewarm response

A tour package subsidy scheme aimed at domestic travellers is so far failing to prove popular with either tourists or tour operators. Tour Teaw Thai provides a 40% subsidy on tour packages up to 5,000 baht to 1 million people, but Chotechuang Soorangura from NS Travel and Tours says the conditions are proving a deterrent.

“Locals find the hotel subsidy is easier to use, with more flexibility that meets their travel lifestyle, unlike package tour purchases which cannot be postponed except for force majeure.”

According to a Bangkok Post report, just 383 tour packages were sold between October 8 and 20, the launch period of the scheme. 255 available programmes are on offer, ranging in price from 5,000 baht to over 10,000 baht. By contrast, the hotel subsidy scheme, We Travel Together, resulted in over 170,000 room nights booked.

There is concern the tour packages on offer won’t attract families and millennials, who prefer independent travel post-lockdown. Thanapol Cheewarattanaporn from the Association of Domestic Travel says putting together a tour package is time consuming, as every aspect, from restaurants, attractions, car hire, has to pass inspection. The approval process for each individual package can take at least 20 days, meaning there are currently few programmes on offer.

Chotechuang believes tour operators are also wary of not having enough demand and risk losing money as they are required to pay 40% upfront and the process for recouping the subsidy from the government is complicated. The Bangkok Post reports that tour operators faced similar payment issues last year, with a scheme that enabled 1.2 million healthcare workers to travel under a 2,000-baht budget per person, but many travellers didn’t show up.

According to Chotechuang, the biggest factor determining appetite for travel is the number of Covid-19 infections. He says the daily case rate will need to be lower and more vaccines made available before group travellers feel confident. A recent poll of 1,540 Thais and 740 tourism operators showed that 83% say the infection rate is the primary factor affecting domestic tourism.

For more information on how to get into Thailand during the pandemic, 

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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