Thailand’s focus on wealthy tourists will not benefit small businesses

With the reopening on November 1, the government has not sought to welcome again all travelers who wish to come to Thailand. Instead, they focused narrowly on attracting ‘good’ tourists, attempting to lure wealthy investors and retirees to pour money into Thailand, while often pushing out moderate and moderate tourists. budget hotels that have been the backbone of Thailand’s tourism industry for years.

The proposed long-term visa package is aimed directly at only 4 types of travelers:

  1. Wealthy international tourists with assets in multiple countries worth at least US $ 1 million who need to invest at least US $ 500,000 (16.5 million baht) in government bonds.
  2. Wealthy retirees over 50, who will need a pension fund large enough to cover their living expenses in Thailand and who need to invest at least US $ 250,000 in government bonds.
  3. Digital nomads or employees of foreign companies with high added value who wish to work remotely from Thailand.
  4. Highly qualified professionals coming to work as experts in selected industries.

Energy Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow even explicitly said that instead of trying to attract 40 million travelers like the pre-Covid-19 tourism figures, they aim to attract just 1 million big spenders. which they believe will generate the same income. In 2019, 11.4% of GDP came from tourism, or around 2,000 billion baht, meaning that the new government plan calls for each of these high-flying tourists to spend around 2 million baht on their vacation or time. of life in Thailand.

But many business owners are frustrated and angry at being abandoned by the government’s ambitious plan, where luxury and wealthy businesses could thrive, but all businesses that cater to mid-range and small-scale travelers budget will see virtually no income. The focus on high-end tourists will bring money to wealthy chains and properties, but will do little, if anything, to boost the economy for the average Thai person or business.

Bali recently announced similar intentions to ban backpackers when they reopen in a bid to revamp tourism to attract the spending tourists. Measures like this in Indonesia and Thailand could trigger a tourism boom for countries like Cambodia, where the population is approaching 80% vaccination rates, far more than Thailand’s 38%, which could potentially host to open arms to the millions of backpackers and budget travelers. which have been the bread and butter of Southeast Asian tourism for years.

Yet many governments view the Covid-19 pandemic as a reset button, a chance to start over and reshape their image and reputation like a child’s first day at a new school in a new city. But with countries around the world reopening and many negative opinions about the complicated re-entry process for tourists to enter Thailand, now might not be the time for beggars to choose.

Many point out that the idea that a smaller number but better quality of tourists will benefit the environment, as the Minister of Energy suggests, wealthy tourists cause much more damage to the environment with accommodation and luxury transport consuming much more water and resources than backpackers sharing buses. and dormitories.

Upscale tourists enjoying cocktails and meals at their resort also put significantly less money into local savings, while budget travelers tend to shop at local markets and dine at local restaurants. , directly contributing to the small and medium-sized businesses that have suffered the most from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many players in the tourism industry are eagerly awaiting the recovery of the international tourism industry, but want the government to stop focusing on wealthy travelers who do not necessarily benefit the local economy and start focusing on a large network to attract the greatest number of tourists. of all demographic data.

THE SOURCE: Straits Times

For more information on how to enter Thailand during the pandemic, CLICK HERE

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