Tourism tax rebates a push for Thailand’s secondary provinces

Udon Thani, home of the Red Lotus Lake tourist attraction, is one of the 55 provinces to selected benefit from the new scheme

Thailand is hoping a tax deduction scheme will help drive tourism into 55 secondary provinces.

Tanes Petsuwan, Tourism Authority of Thailand’s (TAT) deputy governor for marketing, said as part of the country’s Go Local campaign, travellers to the 55 areas can claim back taxes paid on hotels and tours.

The tax-back scheme will first be offered to domestic travellers this year, with the programme extended to international visitors in 2019.

Udon Thani, home of a famed tourist attraction known as Red Lotus Lake (pictured), is one of the 55 provinces selected to benefit from the new scheme

“We hope the tax deduction measures will help boost the economies of these provinces and create more (tourist) demand,” said Tanes, adding that TAT’s biggest challenge in promoting secondary provinces lies in “creating a flow of tourists from big cities to small cities”.

However, some international buyers at ATF 2018 appeared less enthused about the tax-back scheme, and told TTG Asia that the move would have little effect on their market.

David Capaldi, founder and CEO of US-based Blue World Journeys, explained: “For the US, I don’t think this would encourage people to extend their stay (in Thailand) as they have a limited number of holidays.”

Albert Sánchez Ramos, account manager Spanish & Latin markets, Destination Asia Thailand, said the majority of his clients were first-timers to Thailand, and as such preferred “to do the typical itinerary and see Bangkok and Chiang Mai”. “I don’t think this would affect our markets,” Ramos remarked.

For Ben Gosman, managing director of FreeStyle Incentives based in the Netherlands, information on the secondary provinces must come first before he is able to work the new destinations into existing itineraries.

“(Destination) knowledge comes before (traveller) incentives,” he remarked.

TAT too sees the importance of raising awareness of the kingdom’s secondary provinces in order to achieve its new objective. Accordingly, it will reduce promotions of major and well-established destinations such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Pattaya this year, and shift its marketing efforts to lesser-known ones.

Petsuwan said: “We hope this will encourage people to extend their trip. For example, people visiting Chiang Mai will go on to visit Lampang province.”

Through this new direction, TAT hopes to increase visitors numbers in these areas to 10 million, and generate an annual tourism income of US$3 million.”

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