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Unlocking Luxury Shopping Nuggets in Thailand: Is the Government’s Bold Tax-Slashing Move a Game-Changer for Tourists and Economy?

The Revenue Department recently highlighted that since the year 2017, an impressive tally exceeding 9.4 million tourists sought VAT refunds, contributing to an astounding total expenditure surpassing 200 billion baht.

In the preceding year alone, upwards of 230,000 tourists enriched the Thai economy through their fervent spending which amounted to a staggering 11 billion baht. As a consequence, these tourists were duly compensated with a hefty tax refund quantifying 575 million baht.

Fast forwarding to this year, the aforementioned count of tourists applying for refunds witnessed a significant upswing, scaling past the 1.2 million mark. In terms of figures, around 2.3 billion baht was refunded by the government as opposed to a collective spending amount totaling 42 billion baht.

However, the year 2021 proved to be the sole outlier, painting a different tale altogether. As the lethal Covid-19 pandemic unfolded in full-swing, tourist spending dwindled to an unprecedented low of 956 million baht. This resulted in just 55 million baht being refunded to a mere 7,800 visitors.

The department further emphasized that the volume of VAT refunds, provides a direct insight into the tourism sector’s rate of recovery. For instance, a higher incidence of refunds corresponds to an uptick in tourist numbers, indicating a revived industry.

In a bid to make the refund process more accommodating for tourists, the government is contemplating the establishment of a unified VAT refund station at the customs checkpost. Under the current scenario, foreign travelers are obligated to visit a distinct VAT refund counter to retrieve their refunded amounts.

Along with that, the department spilled the beans on a fresh initiative, outlining that the government is mulling over slashing taxes on premium, brand-name commodities. This strategic move aims to reel in opulent spenders, thereby, injecting fresh life into the local economy.

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