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Calls for scrutiny of tourism fund

BANGKOK: Tourism operators are concerned about the transparency of the Tourism Promotion Fund, which is estimated to have a budget of more than B13 billion from the B300 tourism fee collected from international visitors.

By Bangkok Post

Friday 17 February 2023, 10:05AM

Tourists at Suvarnabhumi airport. Photo: NNT

Tourists at Suvarnabhumi airport. Photo: NNT

The Cabinet this week approved collection of the fee, expected to start in June.

The Tourism and Sports Ministry is projected to collect B3.9bn this year and more than B10bn from 40 million visitors estimated for next year, reports the Bangkok Post.

Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, said fund management must be transparent and use the principle of checks and balances to avoid accusations of corruption or ineffective spending.

He said the structure of the Tourism Promotion Fund’s subcommittee responsible for approving tourism project proposals should be balanced between the government and the private sector to assure that budget allocation does not favour any interest groups or is used for improper purposes.

Mr Sisdivachr said another concern is fee collection from foreign arrivals at borders as those channels are the most susceptible to corruption.

The ministry needs to set up a prudent system that can prove the exact number of visitors and fee tally at each immigration point, he said.

“We have to closely monitor the structure of the fund’s subcommittee that reviews all project proposals as well as approves regulations,” said Mr Sisdivachr.

“Given the huge sum of money involved, the government should be able to assure the public about the transparency of the fund.”

According to the Tourism and Sports Ministry, the method of fee collection for entry by land could be kiosks at checkpoints for visitors to pay before proceeding to immigration.

These services might be opened up for private sector bidding, said the ministry.

Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of the Thai Hotels Association (THA), said the total receipts from the fee collection after deducting expenses of around B50 per head for insurance would be huge, with careful policies needed to regulate the fund.

“A critical obstacle the THA often encounters when dealing with state agencies is they don’t understand the importance or urgency of projects, particularly regarding human resources development,” she said.

Mrs Marisa said often such agencies are not directly involved with the tourism industry and they mostly refuse to offer budgets to the private sector.

“It would be more effective if the Tourism Promotion Fund members have an understanding of the industry and allow the private sector to share opinions as they have expertise and are familiar with the problems,” she said.

“The tourism industry has a challenge in terms of uneven development as some big players are equipped with skilled human resources, while most small operators don’t have such manpower.

“Projects supported by the fund could provide smaller operators with equal opportunities in skill development, which should be a priority for this fund.”

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Kurt | 18 February 2023 - 00:17:48

Let B300 discussion alone for a moment. As Retiree I have minimum B800,000 in thai bank, yearly checked in's/out's by Immigration. Every trip leaving/come back home I must have a re-entry visa, B1000. For every trip pay departure tax
What is purpose of a re-entry visa, when you have a retirement visa + your own registered address.  It is all just Thai cheap money drain advantage taking.


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