Subsidy slashed amid tepid travel Tour Teaw Thai hit by lack of demand

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Subsidy slashed amid tepid travel  Tour Teaw Thai hit     by lack of demand

Tourists visit Maya Bay on Jan 3 after the country reopened its world-famous beach after closing it for over three years to allow its ecosystem to recover from the impact of excessive tourism in Krabi province.  REUTERS

The Tourism and Sports Ministry will reduce the budget for the “Tour Teaw Thai” tour package subsidy programme, while slashing the scheme's projected tour packages from a million to 200,000 amid weak demand.

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“After three months of implementation, the measure has proved ineffective in driving domestic trips or serving tourists’ demand as very few packages were sold,” said Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.

As of Jan 17, only 27,277 tour packages had been sold, with 1,972 tour programmes offered on the scheme’s website. Some 18,650 tourists had travelled with the scheme since Tour Teaw Thai opened for registration on Oct 8 last year.

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The scheme has seen spending of 213 million baht, of which 82.4 million baht came from the government’s subsidy and the rest from travellers.

Thus, the ministry and the National Economic and Social Development Council have discussed returning the Tour Teaw Thai’s 4-billion-baht budget and reducing the number of tour packages to 200,000.

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Mr Phiphat said local tourists normally take domestic trips independently with family and friends rather than using tours, especially during the pandemic because travelling as part of group tours with strangers can raise health concerns.

However, the ministry wants to continue the scheme, which will be extended from Jan 31 until April 30 if the existing 200,000 packages are used up.

Mr Phiphat said the remaining budget, which came from the 1-trillion-baht government loan, cannot be used 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 proposed continuation of We Travel Together will be submitted to the cabinet to kick off its fourth phase from February until September.

Mr Phiphat said the additional 2 million room nights planned under the scheme are expected to be fully booked by April thanks to the Songkran holidays.

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, said Thanapol Cheewarattanaporn, president of the Association of Domestic Travel.

He said Tour Teaw Thai is the only measure that offers opportunities to tourism operators apart from hotels, while there will be no new tourism stimulus to support the industry after April, which is the beginning of the low season.

Mr Thanapol added that the government should promote Tour Teaw Thai to create more recognition among Thais and encourage them to join the scheme.

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