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Soon there will be ‘unlimited’ domestic flights

The government may offer a subsidy for an unlimited travel pass to people who buy domestic air tickets in advance to help struggling airlines in Thailand.

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the redemption rate on airfare for the ongoing “We travel together” stimulus campaign has been slow in the past seven months when compared with the 6 million hotel room nights that were used.

There are 1.3 million airline seats left out of 2 million available seats, prompting the TAT to discuss new tactics for the campaign with airlines to accelerate travel demand and help airlines stay in business.

He said among several ideas that were proposed, an unlimited pass was an interesting option that could be implemented under the same budget.

The government will offer 2,000 baht subsidy for unlimited passes or buffet tickets purchased from local airlines.

This method is more flexible as this type of tickets allows users to make purchases in advance without a set schedule.

This approach would also increase frequency of travel as people will plan more trips to maximise utility.

Mr Yuthasak said the agency will also propose a new allotment for the hotel room subsidy, which will be the third extension as there is remaining budget of 5 million rooms and 1 million from the first and second phases, respectively.

Due to a stagnant market that saw five-star hotels discount room rates to extraordinarily low levels, the price each tourist spent on hotel room is no higher than 2,700 baht. The maximum subsidy was capped at 7,500 baht per room.

“We may lower the ceiling to 2,700 baht in response to the data from the first two phases. By introducing a new subsidy amount, the scheme can allocate more rooms for more people,” said Mr Yuthasak.

The third phase subsidy could be extended to September, which can help hotels attract more guests during low season in the third quarter.

This project also needs a major revamp on fraud prevention as the agency is considering an amendment in the consent form for hotels joining this programme.

Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of the Thai Hotels Association, said hotel bookings dropped instantly after the subsidy benefits ran out early this month.

To avoid a revenue gap, the government should extend this stimulus package as soon as possible because local tourists rely heavily on discounts and subsidies when planning trips, she said.

Bangkok Post