Visitors take a tour at the busy Damnoen Saduak floating market in Ratchaburi on May 31. (Photo by Arnun Chonmahatrakool)

The government will offer a 3,000-baht subsidy on 5 million hotel rooms and a 40% discount on airline tickets to Thai tourists next month, under a 20-billion-baht programme to revitalise the tourism industry.

“A complete package, combining benefits from booking both hotels and airfare, will be submitted to the cabinet for approval next week as we expect to stimulate 100 million domestic trips while the international market will recover slowly,” Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said on Friday.

The programme is a part of attempts to drive total tourism revenue to 1.23 trillion baht within this year, after achieving 520 billion baht in the first five months. Of the goal, 402 billion should come from domestic receipts, and 828 billion from international expenditure.

Mr Phiphat said tourists aged 20 years and older would be eligible to use the benefits when checking in to hotels or purchasing air tickets from participating airlinese.

The government will subsidise 40% of expenditure at up to 3,000 baht per person and hotel stays should be no longer than five nights.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and the Finance Ministry finalised the package this week, but details are still changeable, pending further discussions with the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) and the Finance Ministry on Monday.

“At first, we didn’t include airlines in this scheme, but as the aviation industry is an essential part of travel that has been hit hard by the pandemic, we were asked to help them too. With this new benefit, tourists can receive a subsidy on airfare too,” Mr Phiphat said.

Thai travellers will be required to sign up via the Krungthai Bank app to obtain e-vouchers for the stimulus scheme, which will run from July to October.

Another stimulus package was tailored for 1.2 million medical personnel, village health volunteers, and subdistrict health promotion hospital workers. They will be eligible to take free meeting and incentive trips as a reward for their hard work, with 2,000 baht in support per person.

Mr Phiphat also offered updates on the prospect for bilateral agreements to let people between two countries travel without a 14-day quarantine, known as a “travel bubble", which was discussed by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) on Friday.

In the initial stage, he said, the country would be open to only two groups: business people who receive an invitation from a firm and patients who have an appointment with a doctor in Thailand.

Given the exhaustive screening processes, only around 1,000 inbound guests per day are expected.

According to the CCSA, the targeted countries and territories include China, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar and countries in the Middle East.

Mr Phiphat said the final proposal would be submitted to the next CCSA meeting on Wednesday.

In the next phase, the ministry plans to discuss with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha easing more travel restrictions for long-stay tourists who can travel in designated areas where it would be easy to track their whereabouts, such as Phuket, Krabi, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.

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