Thai hotels threaten to pull out of tourism scheme as payments slow

BANGKOK (The Nation/Asia News Network) – With stricter fraud prevention measures in place, many hotels are complaining of long delays in payment of grants under the Rao Tiew Duay Kan (We Travel Together) program. The program was created to boost domestic tourism.

Some hotels fear liquidity problems, especially with the upcoming long Songkran holiday.

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

He said that in the first and second phases, the government paid 40 percent of the room rate to hotels within 15 days of participating holidaymakers checking in.

But payments were delayed from November, when the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) began requesting additional documents citing “incomplete facial scans” of holidaymakers, Phisut said.

According to him, nearly 100 million baht remains unpaid to hotels in the east coast region, including Pattaya, Chanthaburi and Trat.

“Some hotels are concerned 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 program, the government covers 40 percent of the cost of airline tickets and hotel rooms, and also gives participants free food vouchers.

However, a widespread scam involving hundreds of hotels, allegedly claiming government subsidies without guests actually checking in, was uncovered last year.

Thapanee Kiatpaiboon, TAT deputy governor for domestic marketing, said that was the reason strict controls needed to be implemented, adding that TAT had set up a task force to deal with the delays. She said the issue should be resolved within 60 days after hotels submit all the requested documents.

In addition to the East Coast, hotels in other regions have also reported delays in subsidy payments.

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

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

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