As the fragrance of Thailand’s rich cultural heritage wafts across international borders, the nation’s Tourism Council is gearing up for a strategic financial initiative to bolster the country’s tourism sector. Financed by fees paid by global explorers visiting Thailand, a dedicated tourism fund is being concocted behind the scenes. Spearheading the idea is Surawat Akaraworamat, the Vice-President of the Tourism Council, who eagerly awaits the green signal from the government to roll out this financially promising project.
As intricate as the designs on a traditional Thai dancer’s costume, the formation of this project involved an impeccable team effort from three dutiful subcommittees specialising in unique areas of concern, namely, fee collection, fund management, and tourist insurance. A panel of eminent fund managers weighed in on the proposed rules regarding the collection and distribution of the fund earlier this month, reflecting the promise and potential of this endeavour.
Sharing the honour of crafting these pioneering regulations were the Office of the Council of State and the Comptroller-General’s Department. After thorough discussions, they have now assembled the guidelines like a jigsaw puzzle, ready for the public eye through their publication in the Royal Gazette, as quoted by Surawat.
In a revolutionary agreement, the subcommittee decreed that government bodies should have the privilege to borrow from the fund to enhance tourism development. Complying with Section 24 of the National Tourism Policy Act, the fund’s reserves can serve as a subsidy or loan only for government entities. This comprehensive provision touches upon the aspects of education, research, training, meetings, and public relations, all intricately interlaced with the betterment of Thailand’s tourism industry.
The expected influx into the fund makes for an interesting reveal: 300 baht from air tourists and half as much from wanderlust filled souls reaching by land or sea. You might wonder where part of these funds would be directed? Medical coverage for incidents as common as the bane of travellers’ bellies, diarrhoea, and reparation for unfortunate predicaments leading to physical harm or loss of life with an approximate allocation of 60 baht for each visitor’s insurance.
However, despite the fervent appeal from numerous tourism operators for the accessibility of the fund yielding soft loans during eventual crises, Surawat signified the Tourism Policy Act’s probable incompatibility with such a dispensation. Yet, there lies a silver lining. Should unforeseen crises emerge, government agencies could opt to reroute portions from the tourism fund as subsidies or loans to strengthen the private sector, as unveiled by the Bangkok Post.
Reminding us of the necessity of a dedicated tourism fund for vibrant Thailand, Surawat reminisces about the dissolved Foreign Tourists Assistance Fund nearly two years ago. He quotes, “With billions of baht in revenue every year, we can increase confidence in our tourism with a proper protection scheme and generate enough budget to help improve the competitiveness of the industry.” A sentiment as heartwarming as Thailand’s elegant hospitality, reminding us that the journey to restore and improve is ceaseless.