Latest Thailand Situation Update and News – July 2010

Thailand is recovering, and recovering really fast. The civil unrest and violence has settled down completely. The Thai government is doing a commendable job in not just trying to bring things back to normal but giving it the much needed boost. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and the entire Thai tourism industry have rolled out a range of promotions, strategies, activities, and projects to help revive visitor arrivals which were affected by the recent political turmoil.

In its ongoing drive to restore confidence in Bangkok following the deadly May protests, the Tourism Authority of Thailand had launched a massive weekend celebration dubbed “Smile at Ratchaprasong” between 2-4th July in the area that was most hit.

Thailand’s prime minister said he believes a state of emergency will be lifted in many areas of the country soon.
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said his cabinet will resolve the controversial issue on Tuesday.

The Royal Thai Government has extended a range of measures to promote tourism, including a waiver of tourist visa fees until 31 March, 2011. At the same time, a committee of economic ministers has approved a new relief package for the tourism industry. The package includes the following measures:

  • Thais who purchase local travel packages from tour operators or pay for the accommodation fee can deduct up to 15,000 Baht when filing their annual income tax for 2010 and the exemption of operation fee for hotel operators to the year 2011.
  • Providing training courses for workers within the travel and tourism sector.
  • The SME Bank’s 5 billion Baht loan programme for small- and- medium-sized tourism business operators will be maintained. The loan repayment period will be extended from five years to eight, and the interest rate set at the minimum lending rate minus three percentage points for two years. A two-year grace period will be granted for the principal payment. There is presently 2 billion Baht in loans available for SMEs. Additional funds might be disbursed if there is a strong demand for loans

The Airports of Thailand (AOT) has agreed to reduce many airport fees for nine months to assist airlines and related businesses.

The AOT will reduce landing fees by 15 per cent while the aircraft parking fee will be reduced by half. Rental fee inside airports as well as services and facilities fees will be cut by 10 per cent.

The situation is already returning to normal. According to official data, international passengers arriving at Suvarnabhumi International Airport totaled 540,788 in the period of 1-27 June, 2010, a decline of 6.8 per cent over the same period of 2009. This is a clear indication that the rate of decline has slowed significantly over the fall of 19 per cent in visitor arrivals in May 2010 over May 2009.

“UNWTO and its members stand behind Thailand,” Rifai said. “Valuable lessons and strategies used by other member states to confront similar crisis situations will be shared. This meeting also represents an expression of solidarity with Thailand from the international tourism community.”

Rifai praised Thai government efforts to revitalize the tourism industry, including a financial scheme for tourism entrepreneurs and small businesses affected by the unrest, exemption from the tourist visa fee for foreigners and a landing and parking fee discount for airports.

Source: CNNGo, TAT