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January 23, 2009

Thailand Tourism:
Operators ask for 5bn baht in government loans

Hurt by the global economic meltdown and closures of the capital's two airports by demonstrators in Bangkok late last year, small Thai tourism operators are seeking loans of at least 5 billion baht to keep them afloat in the business.

Thai News agency quoted Charoen Wang-ananont, president of the Thai Tourism Services Association, as saying that the tourism business sector in Thailand during the current ongoing peak season had dropped about 30 percent from the corresponding period of 2008.

Government measures issued on Tuesday aimed at supporting tourism including waiving visa fees for foreign tourists for three month stays and lowering airline landing and departure fees by 20 per cent and 50 per cent respectively, could help stimulate tourism, he added.

If the government wants to solve problems involving the tourism business in short-term, it must find lending sources for retail operators of at least Bt5 billion so that they could boost their cash flow and invest in launching tourism promotional campaigns, Charoen said.

Most importantly, the government must assure tourists that political problems in Thailand will not affect tourism and there would be no more airport closures in the future, Charoen said.

Maiyarat Pheerayakoses, president of the Association of Domestic Travel (ADT), said the government should also assist in boosting the cash flow for small- and medium-sized operators and its measures should bear fruits within one month instead of two to three months as planned earlier.

Maiyarat said if businesses do not improve, the operators will have to lay off some 2,000 to 3,000 employees within the next few months.

In an attempt to boost the tourism business, the two associations have joined hands with other private sector organisations in holding a fair February 26 to March 1 at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre. It  is expected that not less than 600 million baht would change hands at the event.

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