Thailand waives hotel fees and approves subsidy for rice farmers

The government is aiming for 36.7 million foreign visitors in 2024, compared with a record of nearly 40 million in pre-pandemic 2019. - PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK (Reuters): Thailand's cabinet on Tuesday agreed to extend a waiver on operating fees for hoteliers for two more years to support the recovery of the country's tourism sector, and also approved a subsidy for rice farmers.

The exemption of the annual fee of 40 baht (US$1.1) per hotel room from July 2024 to June 2026 will cost the government 54 million baht (US$1.47 million) in lost revenue, deputy spokesperson Karom Phonphonklang told a news conference.

Waiving the fee will help reduce expenses for hotel operators who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and may remain unable to recover, he said.

Tourism is a key driver of the Thai economy, which has lagged regional peers, as it faces high household debt and borrowing costs as well as weak exports.

The government, which is targeting 3% economic growth this year after last year's 1.9% expansion, has said tourism will continue to underpin economic growth.

Thailand received 16.84 million foreign tourist arrivals since the start of 2024 to June 23 this year, up 36% year on the year, with spending of 795 billion baht ($21.7 billion), tourism ministry data showed.

China was the biggest source market with 3.31 million tourists during the period.

The government is aiming for 36.7 million foreign visitors this year, compared with a record of nearly 40 million in pre-pandemic 2019.

The cabinet also approved a subsidy of 30 billion baht for rice farmers to buy fertiliser, which is expected to help 4.68 million rice farming households, the government said in a statement.

Thailand, the world's second-largest exporter of the grain after India, earlier said rice exports may reach 8 million metric tons this year.

($1 = 36.59 baht) (Reporting by Orathai Sriring and Kitiphong Thaichareon, and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Ed Davies) - Reuters

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Thailand , Govt , waive , hotel fees , approve subsidy , farmers


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