‘Travel cards’ could exempt expats from Thai dual-pricing schemes

Kathu Beach on Phuket in March 2019. Photo: Dennis Sylvester Hurd
Kathu Beach on Phuket in March 2019. Photo: Dennis Sylvester Hurd

The long Septemberkran weekend may have spread some spending love, but the dire outlook for tourism has officials upping their pitches to both Thais and foreign residents.

While an estimated THB8.8 billion (US$280 million) was spent throughout the realm, the specter of COVID’s return saw tourism officials pledge to consider abolishing higher entry fees for foreigners and easier access to a government travel subsidy.

On Friday, tourism authority governor Yuthasak Supasorn said they would discuss an end to dual-pricing at national parks and other travel destinations where foreigners are charged exponentially higher entry fees. One idea quickly proposed was issuing travel cards to foreign residents to distinguish them from tourists and entitle them to local prices.

On the eve of the long weekend, health officials announced the first local transmission of COVID-19 following a 100-day streak involving a recently incarcerated Bangkok DJ. That led to murmurs that plans to reopen Phuket to some incoming tourists would be delayed.

While the weekend saw the heaviest travel in areas near the capital and cities such as Pattaya, Cha-am, Hua Hin and Khao Yai, operators have complained that taxpayer-backed travel rebates are too complicated for many people to use.

Supawan Thanomkietiphum of the national hotel association on Monday said many middle-aged and elderly travelers felt the conditions were too complicated and technical. She suggested that the government should ease access to the subsidy for all ages.

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