Thailand plans measures to boost consumption, tourism

 Wednesday, January 29, 2020 


Thai government plans to introduce additional measures next month to boost consumption and tourism, the finance minister, Mr Uttama Savanayana, said Tuesday, as it tries to shore up a faltering economy facing a sharp blow from the coronavirus in China.


Tourism, a key growth driver and previously the only bright spot in the economy, has been hit hard by China’s ban on all group tours.


China is Thailand’s biggest source of foreign tourists, with 11 million Chinese visitors last year accounting for 28 per cent of the total. The Tourism Authority of Thailand expects Chinese visits to fall by 2 million this year.


“We have to admit that there must be an impact on the overall economy, as tourist numbers fall,” Mr Savanayana told reporters.


He said government agencies were working on proposals for measures next month, which could include handouts or cash back to support spending on travel and consumer goods.


The ministry is likely to trim its 2020 growth outlook, currently at 3.3 per cent, when it reviews that on Wednesday.


The central bank forecast 2020 economic growth at 2.8 per cent, slightly picking up from an estimated 2.5 per cent in 2019, a five-year low. Official 2019 growth data is due on Feb 17.


In a bid to spur business activity, the cabinet on Tuesday approved a package of tax incentives to encourage investment as exports have been weak and domestic demand soft.


The package is expected to attract investment worth more than 100 billion baht and add 0.25 percentage point to economic growth, said ministry official Lavaron Sangsnit.


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