Friday, October 18, 2019

Tourism minister pushes for cuts in tariffs on branded products to boost tourist spending

Oct 07. 2019
Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn
Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn
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By Wichit Chaitrong
The Nation

5,955 Viewed

The minister for tourism wants cuts in tariffs on well-known brands to attract more tourists. Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said the ministry was preparing new measures to promote tourism. 

The new package would be announced after October 10, he told a group of reporters. He hinted at the impending measures after the ministry offered Bt100 tickets for domestic travel as a supplement to the Eat, Shop and Spend scheme.

He said he would consult the Finance Ministry on whether it could cut tariffs, some as high as about 40 per cent, on brand-name products.

“I do not want Thai people to go abroad for shopping brand-name products, which results in money leaking out of the domestic economy,” he said. “If Thai travellers could buy brand-name products here at reasonable prices, then that money would be injected into the local economy,” he said.

Moreover, foreign tourists who visit Thailand would spend more here if they could buy brand-name products at cheaper prices than at present, he said.

Meanwhile, Lavaron Sangsnit, director-general at the Fiscal Policy Office of the Finance Ministry told The Nation that there were several factors to take into account before the government decides to cut taxes. The average tariff rate on luxury brands is about 30 per cent, he said.

He said the issue had been discussed many times in the past, and Thai retailers also wanted the government to cut tariff rates.

The government did cut the tariff rate by 15 per cent 10 years ago, but it did not have much of an effect on the prices of luxury goods. The prices of branded products such as leather bags dropped by only 5 per cent, he revealed.

He pointed out that brand-name owners may implement a different price strategy for different countries or economies. For example, in Asia they apparently designate Hong Kong as the place for the cheapest price of luxury goods followed by Singapore, he said.

Lavaron, however, admitted that these things might change. “So we need to look into the tax matter from many angles, and new factors,” he said.

The tourism minister also wants medical tourists to go for treatments out of Bangkok to potential provinces such as Hat Yai in Songkhla in the South.

He said Thailand is lucky as, despite the decline in medical tourists from the Middle East, there had been a rise in medical tourists in recent times from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

The government agencies will also try to bid for big events, such as international conferences and trade exhibitions to be held in the country. He said his ministry plans to organise a global e-sport event next year in order to help Thai youth get experience of the new sports. A marathon running event for new couples who want to spend their wedding or honeymoon in Thailand on Valentine’s day will also be held, he said.

Tourist attraction events related to local folklore, legends or history will be held all year round in 77 provinces next year, he revealed.

He said he would discuss with the Interior Minister about the streamlining of immigration procedures in order to provide more convenience.

The government also wanted to send a strong message to tourists that it would make serious efforts to reduce plastic waste and tackle air pollution, he said. He added that the ministry would next year try to keep the number of tourist arrivals the same as this year, as the global economic slowdown and trade tensions have adversely impacted tourism.

While almost all economic indicators in August pointed to the economy slowing down, the number of foreign tourists continued to be on the rise, according to the Bank of Thailand

Some 38.2 million foreign tourists visited Thailand last year, up 7.3 per cent from the previous year. The number of tourist arrivals in the first eight months (January to August) this year were 26.6 million, up 2.8 per cent year on year, according to the central bank.

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