After offering Thai nationals more than 24 billion baht in free hotels rooms and discounted airfares, the government finally is ready to throw expats a bone.
The Tourism and Sports Ministry said Wednesday it was preparing discounted domestic-travel packages for about 2 million expats, offering breaks on accommodations and attractions equivalent to those offered to Thais under the “We Travel Together” campaign.
Minister Pa Ratchakitprakarn said that since Thailand has continued to keep foreign tourists out, it needed to leverage the higher spending power of foreigners inside the country who basically are prevented from overseas travel. They could go out, but getting back in remains a problem.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand said it thinks it can sqeeze 10 billion baht out of expats who often have to pay much higher prices for tourist attractions and national parks. Of course, Phiphat said the government would look into the whole “two-price Thailand” uproar, although he said the ministry is unable to do anything about dual-pricing as the jurisdiction over such things is spread between several ministries.
TAT Gov. Yuthasak Supasorn said the expat discount plan may take the form of club cards that can be shown at various hotels and tourist attractions to obtain discounts. He said it would be discussed with hotel operators this week.
The TAT and the tourism ministry both have been running subsidized programs to boost domestic tourism, allowing Thai nationals to book travel packages through online booking site Agoda that offer hotel rooms up to 40 percent off, book flights using a mobile-phone app to obtain similar breaks or buy vouchers on shopping portal Shopee to get discounts up to 50 percent in Pattaya.
None of those programs, however, were open to foreigners as Thai national ID cards were required to purchase. Every mention of such programs on social media or news websites sparks diatribes by aggrieved farangs popping off about xenophobia, racism or any other slight they can dredge up from their time in the country.