Hotels threaten to pull out of tourism scheme as payments slow down


With more stringent measures in place to prevent fraud, many hotels are complaining about long delays in the payment of subsidies under the Rao Tiew Duay Kan (We Travel Together) scheme. The scheme was launched to boost domestic tourism.

Some hotels are worried they may hit liquidity problems, especially with the long Songkran holidays drawing near.

Many have also threatened to pull out of the scheme, which is now in its fourth phase, Phisut Sae-khu, president of Thai Hotels Association’s Eastern Chapter, said on Saturday.

He said that in the first and second phases, the government paid 40 per cent of the room charge to hotels within 15 days after participating holidaymakers checked in.

However, payments began getting delayed from November, when the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) started asking for additional documents citing “incomplete facial scans” of holidaymakers, Phisut said.

According to him, almost 100 million baht remains unpaid to hotels in the eastern seaboard region, including Pattaya, Chanthaburi and Trat.

“Some hotels are worried about their liquidity as they prepare to welcome tourists during Songkran. Some hotel operators may withdraw from the Rao Tiew Duay Kan scheme,” he said.

Under the scheme, the government covers 40 per cent of the cost of air tickets and hotel rooms and also gives participants free food coupons.

However, widespread fraud was uncovered last year involving hundreds of hotels, who allegedly claimed government subsidies without guests actually checking in.

Thapanee Kiatpaiboon, TAT deputy governor for domestic marketing, said this is why strict checks had to be put in place, adding that TAT has set up a task force to deal with the delays. She said the issue should be solved within 60 days after hotels submit all requested documents.

Apart from the eastern seaboard, hotels in other regions have also reported delays in the subsidy payment.

Viroj Chaya, president of the Chiang Rai Hotels Association, said about half of the 300 participating hotels in the northern province are suffering from delays in payment worth about 10 million baht.

He said the problem started in February and is affecting hotels of all sizes, not just small ones.