The Royal Thai Government and the entire Thai tourism industry have expeditiously actioned several measures to keep visitor flows moving in spite of tough economic times and global fears of swine flu.
The government has approved measures to help local operators promote more domestic travel and international visitor arrivals. These involve financial help, waiver of visa fees, and a range of tactical marketing measures; such as special campaigns, especially via online media.
Mrs Juthaporn Rerngronasa, Deputy Governor for Marketing Communications, Tourism Authority of Thailand said, “There is no doubt that these are challenging times. We are extremely happy to be receiving the maximum possible assistance and cooperation from right across the industry. Everybody realises the importance of travel and tourism to the country’s economy.”
In January – April 2009, visitor arrivals to Thailand totalled 4.7 million, down 14.7 per cent compared to the same period last year. While most markets showed varying rates of decline, Thailand saw an increase of almost 11.5 per cent in arrivals from the Middle East and a 3.6 per cent increase in arrivals from South Asia.
For 2009, TAT initially projected 13.5 million visitor arrivals. However, due to the recent global and local developments, TAT is realigning its arrivals targets and marketing strategies in line with the market circumstances.
Most of the help has been directed at the grassroots of the business community, especially Small and Medium Sized Enterprises.
The Thai Cabinet has given clearance to the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank of Thailand (SME Bank) to offer loans totalling Bt5 billion to smaller tourism operators.
Of that amount, three billion baht has been allocated to help tourism SMEs who are in debt to the banks. This will help to subsidise the loans given by banks by paying an equivalent of 2 per cent interest for a period of 2 years.
Another two billion baht loan was set up for tourism industry SMEs which are in debt to government-owned financial institutions. This fund will help pay 2 per cent for repayment of the loan by SMEs for a period of 2 years.