Tax incentive for travellers still in limbo

Signs promote local tourism at a fair in Bangkok. A tax break on domestic travel remains unsettled. SOMCHAI POOMLARD

A tax break on domestic travel is up in the air after yesterday’s meeting of the Finance Ministry and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) failed to settle the matter.

“There is no conclusion yet,” said TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn. “It was a meeting to exchange opinions on which measures each state agency wants to implement.”

Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong wants to stimulate tourism in three southern border provinces and flood-hit areas, Mr Yuthasak said.

Another meeting on tax incentives will be held soon, he said, as the TAT has been designated by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak to float tourism stimulus measures.

Mr Apisak recently hinted that the Finance Ministry disagreed with the TAT’s tax proposal, saying the ministry must weigh the benefits and fiscal burden before approving the proposal.

Under the TAT’s proposal, tourists who spend during the designated period would be allowed to claim a deduction from personal income tax of 10,000-50,000 baht, depending on the area visited.

If they travel and spend money in flood-hit areas such as Sakon Nakhon province, they will be entitled to a tax deduction of 50,000 baht, five times higher than for top destinations like Phuket and Chiang Mai.

The proposal came after discussions between the TAT and the private sector on ways to spur tourism in the remaining months of 2017.

The proposed incentive would be similar to last year’s tax deduction, which was capped at 15,000 baht. That offer was not valid for purchases of alcohol, tobacco, vehicles, motorcycles, ships or fuel for vehicles and ships.

The Tourism Council of Thailand earlier predicted that Thai people would make more than 150 million trips this year, up from 147 million in 2016.

The council expects 8.75 million foreign visitors to flood into Thailand in the third quarter, a rise of 6.4% year-on-year.

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