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Thai travel industry unites in effort to overcome impact of Coronavirus crisis

Bangkok, 14 February, 2020 – More than 500 members of the Thai travel and tourism industry attended a top-level brainstorming session organised by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports on 13 February to discuss unified and well-coordinated strategies and actions to facilitate a recovery from the inbound tourism downturn caused by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

Presided over by Mr. Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, Minister of Tourism and Sports, the session was attended by the Permanent Secretary for Tourism and Sports Mr. Chote Trachu, the Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, the Director-General of the Department of Tourism Mr. Taweesak Vanicharoen, Chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce Mr. Kalin Sarasin, and tourism corporate leaders and senior executives from all around the country.

Thai travel industry unites in effort to overcome impact of Coronavirus crisis
Mr. Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, Minister of Tourism and Sports

The session began with opening remarks and a policy statement by Minister Phiphat, followed by a number of high level academic lectures to understand the trends, directions and impact of the epidemic on the global and local Thai economy as well as the tourism industry.

In the afternoon session, the participants were divided into four groups to discuss more specific actions on 1) stimulating travel and tourism for both Thai and foreign tourists, 2) enhancing tourism standards, 3) building confidence among Thais and foreigners, and 4) setting recovery measures.

In his opening remarks, Minister Phiphat thanked all the participants for coming. He said it was now time for the entire industry to unite and harness its full creative potential in ensuring the earliest possible recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

He said the results of the workshops of the four brainstorming groups will allow the agencies under the Ministry of Tourism and Sports to more accurately define strategies and plans that are timely and able to handle a very rapidly-changing situation. It will also allow the private sector to take their own actions to rebuild their businesses.

“We now have to convert a crisis into an opportunity. It is important to get the private sector back on its feet, which is considered the main mechanism to drive the country’s tourism industry. The Ministry of Tourism and Sports will present the results of the meeting to the Cabinet of Ministers.

“Tourists from all over the world have confidence in the tourism industry of Thailand. The Ministry of Tourism and Sports is ready to lead the recovery effort, stand by the entrepreneurs and all Thai people and ensure that tourism can regain its rightful place as a contributor to stable, prosperous and sustainable national growth.”

Thai travel industry unites in effort to overcome impact of Coronavirus crisis
Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor (front row, centre)

Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor thanked all the participants for their comments and guidance. He acknowledged that the entire industry had suffered but it was important for all sectors to unite and cooperate and help itself and to just wait for government assistance.

The Governor also presented the range of TAT activities to communicate the facts and status updates in order to present accurate, reliable news and build confidence amongst both Thai and foreign tourists.

The TAT assistance measures include both immediate and long-term, divided into three categories: 1) Business-driven measures to help entrepreneurs by offering financial and tax relief; 2) marketing and confidence-building measures to regain trust and stimulate tourism, and 3) restore and reform measures to improve sustainability and upgrade the importance of tourism safety as part of the national agenda.

The Governor added that the effectiveness of the government’s efforts will be limited without the strong and critical support and power of the private sector, which has always been a major force.

“We will not let the COVID-19 crisis beat us. Through “Cooperation, Love, Unity” in the Thai tourism industry, I am confident that we will overcome the Corona crisis under the leadership of Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.”

Thai travel industry unites in effort to overcome impact of Coronavirus crisis
TAT deputy governors

The Cabinet has already approved a number of short-term and long-term measures proposed by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, including:

1) Tax measures by extension of the filing of tax returns for the fiscal 2019 until the end of June 2020.

2) Domestic seminars and tax measures to support the hotel business.

3) Strengthening the supply chain measures.

4) Establishing a steering committee to strengthen the supply chain, education and framework for expanding the operating hours of establishments in tourist areas or zoning, as well as supporting charter flights for high-spending tourists to emerging destinations.

The brainstorming sessions were preceded by opening lectures by four eminent persons:

  • “Cooperation in resolving and supporting emergency situations affecting sustainable tourism” by Mr. Kalin Sarasin, Chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade of Thailand.
  • “Global and Thailand view under the coronary virus crisis 2019 by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Somchai Phakaphaswiwat, Independent academic.
  • “Survival of the Thai economy under the threat of virus” by Dr. Don Nakornthap, Senior Director, Macroeconomic Department, Bank of Thailand.
  • “Building confidence in Thailand during the Coronavirus crisis situation and the tourism impact in the future” by Associate Professor Dr. Aat Pisanwanich, Director, Centre for International Trade Studies (CITS), University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce
  • “A policy framework for driving solutions to support the emergency situation that affects sustainable tourism” by the Permanent Secretary of Tourism and Sports, Mr. Chote Trachu.
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