Mekong Tourism and Destination Mekong launch initiative to support Experience Mekong Collection members

In order to help the Experience Mekong Collection members in these challenging, The Mekong Tourism Coordinating office and Destination Mekong are listing any businesses that are asking for donations. We are asking everybody to support these small responsible travel businesses, which we recognize as our shining lights of the Mekong Region. Let’s all come together to make sure that these lights will continue to shine for many years to come.

Continue reading

Tourism Levy Mulled

The Tourism and Sports Ministry is considering a tax of 300 baht or less per person for foreign arrivals that could cover pandemic insurance, once inbound flights and tourism activities resume in the country.

Continue reading

Thai Travel Association Seeks Government Financial Support Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

The Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) has called on the government to provide financial support for the tourist industry which has been hardly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

ATTA President Vichit Prakobkosol confirmed on Sunday that he had recently discussed with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha the current pandemic situation, which has considerably affected tourism and travel firms, and asked for help from the government.

The ATTA president asked the government to provide a sum of 10 billion baht (about 309.59 million U.S. dollars) in soft loan for hotels, resorts and other tourism-related businesses in addition to the same amount of a loan earlier offered by the Government Savings Bank.

The ATTA president also asked the government to cut or temporarily lift the 7 percent value-added tax collectible from tourism-related businesses, extend the three-months period for the government-given compensation pay amounting to a maximum of 62 percent of the daily wages of employees, who have been hired by hotels and other tourism-related businesses and currently jobless due to the pandemic.

In addition, Vichit asked the government to allow travel firms to make extra earnings by organizing seminars, conferences and tourism-related activities for government agencies and local administrative organizations throughout the country.

Domestic Travel Set to Kick-start Vietnam’s Tourism Recovery

Vietnam’s tourism industry has gotten an early start to recovery, with domestic demand set to spearhead growth, as the country becomes the first in South-east Asia to lift social distancing restrictions.

The lifting of social distancing restrictions was announced by the Vietnamese government on April 24, setting the stage for the return of domestic tourism. Restaurants in the country have started filling up again and some airlines are operating domestically. From April 23, VietJet started six daily flights connecting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Jeff Redl, managing director of Diethelm Travel Vietnam, said: “It’s a very positive signal. The demand seems to be quite strong as per information received from several hotels.”

Linh Le, principal and co-founder of Luxperia, said with restrictions lifted, many city dwellers had planned trips to the coast for the four-day holiday from April 30 to May 4. However, he noted that the cost of flights is significantly higher, making flying more of a luxury than previously.

Added Le: “Hotels are offering some good deals with added value, however, while domestic tourism will increase, its pre-pandemic high-performance shall be shortened this year. Savvy operators are to tap into local micro and niche markets to attain some recovery of business within domestic tourism.”

Michael Piro, CEO of Wink Hotels, said he is slowly starting to see a “modest” pickup in bookings. He added: “We believe the market will continue to show signs of improvement towards the end of the year.”

Piro predicts the recovery will initially be led by business travel, transitioning to leisure-driven travel through the summer months. To further stimulate domestic demand, he said discounts and promotions will be used to encourage locals to travel.

Thai Domestic Flights Resume Amid Tighter Regulations

Thailand has allowed domestic air travel to resume, with Nok Air, AirAsia, Thai Lion Air and Thai Vietjet Air returning to the air last Friday.

The flights were operated between 14 airports and Bangkok’s Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi. The 14 airports are in Lampang, Mae Sot (Tak), Phitsanulok, Buri Ram, Sakon Nakhon, Nakhon Phanom, Roi Et, Khon Kaen, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, Trang, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Surat Thani and Krabi.

All domestic flights are operating under strict requirements, including social distancing (for example during embarkation and disembarkation) as well as compulsory face masks for all passengers and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) gear for flight crew.

Nattapong Saengsirirattana, managing director of Thai Leisure Co., told TTG Asia that at this stage, there would still be little to no likelihood of domestic tourism.

“We haven’t reached that stage yet. With the current inter-provincial travel regulations, it’s too difficult,” he said, referencing the increased inspections and forced quarantines upon entry in provinces such as Buri Ram or Phitsanulok.

In those provinces, upon arrival, travellers wishing to remain in the province must self-quarantine for 14 days. Their identification documents will be withheld by the authority during the quarantine.

In Nakhon Phanom, non-Thais are altogether barred from entering unless permitted by the governor, and in Krabi, non-residents are barred from entering unless certified to be free from the coronavirus from the point of origin. Travellers without a health certificate will be quarantined at local quarantine centres at their own expense.

Non-residents, except those with proven work commitments in the province, are prohibited from entering Trang.

All provincial governors have been allowed to implement their own measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, provided those measures are as strict or stricter than those prescribed by the national-level Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).

Nattapong opined that airlines resuming operations would face costs challenges.

“With social distancing measures, small planes would most likely be able to fit a maximum of two passengers per row, seated at the window. Due to the new restrictions, they’re also losing income from in-flight F&B purchases,” he said, musing that airfares might rise to cover higher costs.

May 17 Target for Shopping Centres to Re-open

The rumours have been flying since this week’s cabinet meeting about the next raft of re-openings as Thailand’s economy starts to plod back into gear. Now, after a meeting yesterday of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, there’s general consensus that shopping centres and retail stores will be able to re-open on Sunday, May 17. Of course the caveat is that, between now and then, there is no resurgence of the virus in Thailand.

“The next stage of relaxation will begin on May 17 unless the number of new Covid-19 cases soars,” according to Taweesilp Visanuyothin, the CCSA spokesman.

Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha discussed the next lot od re-openings with the CSSA yesterday. The committee will collect information about the proposal until next Tuesday’s cabinet meeting and make an announcement next Thursday.

In another proposal, the CCSA heard from Thailand’s Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul that other countries where the Covid-19 crisis has eased could be removed from the government’s list of “at risk” disease zones. China and South Korea would be the first countries to be removed from a list of the government’s dangerous communicable disease zones, given their containment efforts and low numbers of new cases over the past month.

The permanent secretary for public health also reported that large retail outlets selling construction materials and furniture “may also be allowed to reopen in the next stage because buildings and houses in several provinces have been destroyed and damaged by natural disasters”.

The CCSA also agreed to maintain strict conditions on Thai repatriates and efforts to curb any gatherings of people, which have been the main factors in Covid-19 infections in Thailand’s past two months experience with Covid 19.

“Most local infection cases in the country came from infected returnees and people in close contact with them.”