BANGKOK: Thailand aims to generate at least 882 billion baht (US$26 billion) in domestic tourism revenue next year, from government measures to revive the struggling sector after a major slump in foreign arrivals.
The Southeast Asian country's economy suffered its deepest fall in more than two decades last year, with the key tourism sector devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The country plans to soon welcome more vaccinated foreign tourists.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is working with businesses on plans to promote travel, including more flights to key tourist destinations such as Chiang Mai and Phuket later this month, deputy government spokeswoman Traisulee Traisoranakul said in a statement.
"The move is to meet higher demand for travel during the high season, as the outbreak situation has improved and measures to support travel have started," she said.
In the first eight months of 2021, Thailand recorded 127 billion baht in domestic tourism, despite incentives to encourage more local travel.
Last year, domestic tourism revenue dropped 55 per cent to 482 billion baht, compared with an 83 per cent plunge in foreign tourist receipts to 332 billion baht.
Thailand received nearly 40 million foreign visitors who spent 1.91 trillion baht in 2019. Its strict visa and quarantine requirements during the pandemic have until recently deterred foreign tourists.
The government last week reduced the quarantine period, however, and will from next month waive that for more vaccinated visitors, expanding a pilot scheme in place on Phuket and Samui islands.