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Cabinet approves B23bn graduate job creation scheme

08/09/2020

BANGKOK: The Cabinet today (Sept 8) approved measures to create jobs, the prime minister said, as the government tries to revive an economy devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

But planned cash handouts had not been discussed yet, Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha told a news briefing, reported the Bangkok Post.

Last week, the government announced fiscal stimulus plans worth a combined B68.5 billion.

The prime minister said that the Labour Ministry planned to create 12-month-long jobs for 260,000 graduates from universities and vocational schools.

The positions would be among 1 million jobs that the ministry was preparing for people and it would present the job vacancies in an upcoming job expo, Gen Prayut said.

The government will pay 50% of salaries for new graduates during the one-year period starting next month.

Salaries will be set at B15,000 for university graduates, B11,500 for graduates with advanced vocational certificates and B9,400 for graduates with standard vocational certificates.

The subsidies will cost the state about B23.48bn.

Employers participating in this project must be in the social security system and their lay-offs cannot exceed 15% of their workforce during the one-year period.

Graduates must not be older than 25 years, unless they graduated during the previous year or will graduate this year.

Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said the subsidy was a part of the B1 trillion that the Finance Ministry borrowed to shore up the economy affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on September 8, 2020 by Bangkok Post

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Panel announces plans to boost tourism, create 1 million jobs

20/08/2020

The new panel established by PM Prayut Chan-ocha to steer the economy through the Covid-19 crisis got off to a blazing start yesterday, announcing measures to boost tourism and create a million jobs. Created after the Cabinet reshuffle earlier this month, the panel’s first meeting was chaired by the PM and attended by economics ministers and experts. After the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister and Energy Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow said they had agreed to increase subsidies for local tourists and make jobs available for 400,000 recent graduates.

The committee plans to boost local tourism by expanding its 40% subsidy for accommodation costs from 5 nights to 10. The government launched the tourism subsidies in mid-July with its “We Travel Together” scheme, but so far only around 660,000 of the available 5 million subsidised nights have been booked. Travellers will also see their 1,000 baht discount on air tickets increased to 2,000 baht. Corporations will be invited to use the subsidies to organise seminars or training in other parts of the country. The measures will be submitted to the Cabinet for approval on Tuesday.

The Labour Ministry will also propose measures to create 1 million jobs in the near future to combat burgeoning unemployment. The government has prioritised finding another 400,000 jobs for graduates by funding companies to hire and retain workers. The jobs will be available at private companies and government agencies, according to the minister. The government will also launch other job creation projects funded by the 400 billion baht economic stimulus package.

The unemployment rate in the second quarter rose 1.9 per cent to 745,000 people, according to the National Economic and Social Development Council. The NESDC is also worried about further job losses as 1.7 million workers are currently “furloughed”. The state think-tank predicts the economy will shrink 7.5 per cent this year following a plunge of 12.2 per cent in the second quarter.

Supattanapong said the government aims to bolster the economy and keep the contraction lower than projections.

The new governor of the Bank of Thailand says more small and medium-sized enterprises will apply for loans under the government’s 500 billion baht soft loans scheme. Launched by the central bank in April, the scheme has attracted fewer than expected borrowers due to strict loan conditions. On Tuesday the government relaxed the conditions, instructing bythe state run Thai Credit Guarantee Corporation to guarantee loans, which will encourage commercial banks to lend more.

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on August 20, 2020 by Nation Thailand

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Hotel bookings bounce back for long weekend holiday

26/07/2020

The long holiday weekend is reportedly seeing heavy bookings at hotels and resorts, reigniting hopes of a revival of domestic tourism, which has been battered for months by the Covid-19 outbreak. Accommodations in the southern provinces in particular have been receiving a good rate of bookings with holidaymakers for the 4 day extended weekend.

The tourism authoritiy of Thailand says hotels and resorts in coastal provinces in the East and seaside provinces in the South are reporting a surge in bookings to 80% and 90% occupancy over the 4 day weekend, which kicked off yesterday. It should be noted that not all resorts are open and than many have opened a select number of rooms, skewing the TAT’s rosy picture for the holiday break.

Tomorrow is a substitute holiday for Songkran and Tuesday is the birthday of HM King Maha Vachiralongkhorn.

In the eastern Rayong province, where an infected Egyptian airman stayed and sparked a public scare 2 weeks ago, a large banner was put up in the central business district thanking people nationwide for supporting the province through the crisis. It’s now been 14 days and none of those who came in contact with the Egyptian airman have tested positive for the virus. After testing thousands, authorities have declared Rayong is now free of Covid-19… again.

In Pattaya, several large beachfront hotels say their bookings have jumped to a strong 90% from July 24-28. Pattaya is one of the most popular seaside destinations as it is close to Bangkok. The heavy hotel bookings are believed to be a result of sales promotions and the Rao Thiew Duay Kan (Let’s Travel Together) tourism campaign, in which the government offers subsidies for holidays.

In neighbouring Trat province, hotels and resorts on Koh Chang and Koh Kut islands were nealry booked out. The province’s 2 ferry piers were jam-packed yesterday with cars waiting to board a ferry to the islands.

In Phuket, the director of the TAT’s provincial office said about 6,000 mostly Thai tourists visited the resort island during the previous long weekend from July 4-7, when more than 30 million baht was injected into the local economy. She says she expects the current long weekend will bring even more tourism money. Despite the positive outlook from the TAT, the island’s main tourist town of Patong has been very quiet with fewer than 30% of the shops open.

The Phuket province also expects about 50,000 medical and health workers to visit and take advantage of the government-sponsored Kamlang Chai (moral support) tourism program, which provides a discount for 1.2 million medical and health workers nationwide as incentive to travel.

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on July 26, 2020 by Bangkok Post

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Impact of COVID-19 on Entrepreneurship in Thailand – Lessons from the Past

06/07/2020

Ulrike Guelich, a professor at Bangkok University and the leader of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Thailand team, gives her opinion on how long the COVID-19 crisis is going to last, and what it will take to put Thailand back on the road to recovery.

Following the Tsunami of 2004 and the 2008 financial crisis, Thailand’s economy bounced back relatively quickly. It was a different reality following the Tom Yam Kung crisis of 1997, which resulted in the financial collapse of the Thai baht. The ramifications of this crisis are still felt today, as evidenced by the unfinished Sathorn Unique Tower (the ghost tower) in Bangkok.

Will the COVID-19 crisis be more like the crises we encountered in 2004 and 2008 – a quick recovery – or can we expect more severe consequences like the Tom Yam Kung crisis? Based on my research with the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor over the years, the commonalities between our current crisis and the situation from 22 years ago point to a difficult recovery.

About 40% of all adults in Thailand are involved in entrepreneurship in some way. This includes those running micro-businesses and informal businesses. As the graphic illustrates, Thailand generally has a high number of Total Early Stage Entrepreneurs (TEA), defined as the percentage of the 18-64 population who are either a nascent entrepreneur or owner-manager of a new business, not older than 3.5 years.

There was a noticeable TEA dip in 2013. You may recall there were protests in Thailand at this time which involved a shutdown in Bangkok, businesses closing, followed by a military takeover. Then there was another dip in 2015. One interpretation is that when the protests ended and businesses re-opened, there was a desire to get back to growing companies, but unfortunately many entrepreneurs faced a difficult environment and in 2015 decided against starting up.

Unfortunately, I think that it will take a long time to recover from COVID-19. This past May the unemployment rate in Bangkok was nearly 10%, mainly because of the loss of work from the measures to slow the spread of the virus. Sentiment among CEOs is negative: according to a recent Krungthep Thurakit newspaper survey, the majority felt that the COVID-19 crisis would have an even more drastic impact than the Tom Yam Kung crisis as the outbreak has disrupted businesses and society as well as daily life on a global scale.

Regions like Phuket or Koh Samui, which are overly dependent on tourism, especially on international tourists are hard hit. Some 85% of Phuket’s GDP is hospitality-related, nationwide unemployment in this sector rose to 6 million alone by the end of April. If the country can successfully stimulate the tourism sector, the economy stands a chance to recover sooner.

People are not spending money as they are saving for just essential items. Those selling non-essential goods will particularly be impacted. In a survey by YouthCo:Lab and UNDP among youth entrepreneurs in Thailand and other Asia-Pacific countries, 88% said they have experienced reduced customer demand, 1 in 3 youth reports a major slowdown and 1 in 4 have stopped entirely.

I do want to conclude on an encouraging note. The final bounce-back in this graphic can be attributed to international trade agreements and the start of the ASEAN Economic Community AEC in 2016 that resulted in more businesses being formed that had an internationalization component. Many former local street vendors discovered entrepreneurial opportunities in selling goods and services across the border. They demonstrated a flexibility and resilience to adapt given the circumstances. Throughout my time studying entrepreneurs in Thailand, I have seen this characteristic on display.

Many are talking about a new business normal. I believe that while there will be some difficult times, Thai entrepreneurs are well positioned to adapt to whatever this new normal will look like. They will ultimately create opportunities. This will benefit not only the Thai entrepreneur individually, but the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on July 6, 2020 by Ulrike Guelich

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‘Back to basics’ tourism urged to restart the economy

28/06/2020

The call for “back to basics” tourism came at a seminar at the Prince of Songkla University Phuket campus on Thursday (June 25), held to discuss and present a “white paper” on strategies to restart the island’s economy.

At the meeting, the Governor was told that the pandemic had already cost Phuket B160 billion in lost revenues.

Experts at the seminar pointed out that Phuket was not expected to have any more than 5 million tourists in total this whole year, with 1.5mn of those being Thais.

However, according to a report of the seminar, the Governor was also urged to help develop the island’s economy to be not so dependent on tourism alone as an estimated “80-90%” of the island’s income derived from tourism.

“When we have a problem with tourism activities due to the incidents such as the outbreak of COVID-19, the economy is greatly affected,” the report said.

Developing other sectors through public-private projects would help stimulate the economy and help the island cope with other situations that may occur in the future, the report added.

The “white paper” noted that industries that should be developed in parallel with tourism included the marina industry, education industry, health and wellness industry, tuna export industry, local food industry, and sports and events.

“These industries have both opportunities and obstacles,” the report said.

However, the white paper indicated that proper development of the alternative industries, in collaboration with the private sector, could help to contribute up to B350bn a year to the island’s economy.

“The income generated can also be distributed to local communities and create job opportunities in the area,” the report added.

Governor Narong, who arrived on the island to take up the post as Governor only last Friday (June 19), welcomed the suggestions.

“I am happy to hear all comments that lead to problem-solving and the development of Phuket, with the government, private sector and the people all working together,” he said.

“I will act as a leader and a supporter, as Phuket is now going through a most difficult situation,” he added.

Governor Narong also visited the Phuket Social Security Office on Friday, though it was not reported what he was informed of there.

Social Security Office (SSO) Secretary-General Todsapol Krittawongwiman was in Phuket in person a month ago (May 27) to support the work of social security officials on the island.

“I came to inspect the working and management of the Phuket office, as I was informed that around 100,000 people registered to receive relief funds as they have been affected by the economic impact of COVID-19,” Mr Todsapol said.

“Every day, around 1,000 people come to the office to register. One thousand people per day is the highest number in Thailand,” he added.

However, Mr Todsapol also said that 80% of the 100,000 or so people on the island who had registered to receive COVID-relief support payments from the SSO had already received those payments.

That was not the case a week earlier when workers from Patong’s nightlife industry, left out of work and without any income to support themselves, staged a protest in front of the Social Security Office in Kathu.

Phuket Chamber of Commerce President Thanusak Pungdet earlier this month asked for social security payments for unemployed to be extended for further three months as the money provided by the government was already running out, leaving people left jobless without any form of income.

That was on June 10. Weerawit Kreuasombat, President of the Patong Entertainment Business Association (PEBA), confirmed on Tuesday (June 23) that no officials had contacted him about the extra social security support for former entertainment industry workers left without any income.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on June 27, 2020

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Getting Thailand back on its feet – an interview with David Barrett

25/06/2020

Industry expert and respected marketeer David Barrett in discussion with Andrew J Wood on recovering from the impact of the coronavirus on Thailand’s formidable travel and tourism industry.

As Thailand starts to emerge from lockdown what do you believe are the most important points to consider to ensure success?

DB: As we begin to recover, we are presented with an opportunity to reset Thailand’s tourism model and build a better future. Thailand is set up for mass tourism and if we want to see sustainable growth and development we need better control and management of destinations and resources.

We need to be targeting quick-win markets from bubble source markets close to home as the first step. A focus on high-yield tourists is the way to go, in tandem with wooing back mass tourism, whilst being mindful of the need to better manage the Kingdom’s resources, protecting the environment.

When people start to think about travel again, what do you believe they are looking for in a post COVID-19 world?

DB: Biosecurity measures will be top of the list for first movers in international travel. Reassurances that their health and well-being are being taken care of. Hygiene and health measures may cause a little inconvenience compared to the free-spirited travel pre-COVID, but new measures need to be visible to reassure travellers, as safety is paramount. The first wave of travellers are most likely to take baby steps, travelling nationally this year, flying next year short-haul within 4 hours and longhaul hopefully will rebound in volume by 2022. If you’ve broken a leg and you’re on the mend, you don’t enter a marathon. The global tourism industry has been broken and is now in recovery, we need to take little steps close to home first.

In a recent poll 75% of respondents said that the hotel industry in Thailand cannot thrive with only domestic tourism. Do you agree?

DB: We have to rely and survive on domestic tourism as this is the first market to travel. Thankfully the Royal Thai Government also sees the domestic sector as key to kickstarting the tourism economy and their stimulus package of B22.4 billion with subsidies and incentives to boost domestic tourism is a way to go.

Tourism will continue to be a driver of growth for the Thai economy. Historically, international visitors have propelled the industry, but it is Thais’ desire to travel around Thailand that has seen the domestic tourism market grow. If you take a look at one of the niche segments – eco-tourism, more than 60% of small eco tourism operators in Thailand have websites and promotional collateral only in Thai. That says something about the past success and drive to build back domestic tourism as the first-move segment. Neglect domestic tourism at your peril.

Your name is often linked with the MICE industry. With new social distancing guidelines in place for meetings in Thailand do you think the industry can bounce back in Thailand?

DB: MICE will return. However, if you cut through all the positive spin, the reality is that international MICE, that traditionally has been higher yield, will take much longer to rebound. Hopefully shorthaul MICE with Singapore as the regional corporate hub, feeding meetings to Thailand, will return by the third quarter of 2021. Long-haul markets such as Europe and the high rolling incentives from the US, that we started to see growth pre-COVID, won’t be back en mass until the latter half of 2022. It’s a waiting game.

The challenge is for the DMCs who’ve banked their futures on these longhaul markets. Do they have deep enough pockets to ride through this waiting game? Many of the small DMCs have turned to retail to tide them over, but are stressed about the timeline for the return of their business.

In terms of safe distancing at business events, the industry will adapt and as confidence in international travel resumes, I am sure some of the stringent hygiene and health guidelines will be relaxed. The desire to travel and meet people is in our DNA, and I am confident MICE will resume to pre-COVID levels, but it may take three to five years.

The Thai PM is keen to engage with industry experts. What Travel and Tourism advice would you give him?

DB: Please introduce cooperation between the Ministry of Interior, who issues hotel licenses, and the Ministry of Tourism & Sports. The two ministries need to communicate and cooperate for control of Thailand’s tourism development. And ideally bring the Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment into the conversation too. We need better control and planning of tourism resources.

There is much talk about resetting the industry. What do you think our priorities should be?

DB: To reset the industry (1) Carefully introduce bilateral government agreements on travel, so we can open up key source markets, though elimination of entry restrictions. (2) A long-term masterplan for Thai tourism that is sustainable for the environment and stakeholders A plan that everyone buys into, even if there are controls that may impact business operations. (3) Continue the great work of the Tourism Authority of Thailand in promoting Thailand as the jewel in Asia. And please can we have a new campaign and drop “Amazing” which has run its course.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on June 25, 2020 by Andrew J Wood

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Central bank tweaks B500bn soft loan scheme for SMEs

24/06/2020

BANGKOK: The Bank of Thailand is fine-tuning the process of offering B500 billion in soft loans with an aim to provide virus-hit small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with better access.

The central bank has talked with banks about tweaking the scrutiny process to give SMEs easier access to the funding source after some barriers arose, said Ronadol Numnonda, the central bank’s deputy governor for financial institution stability, reports the Bangkok Post.

The imminent rejig will prioritise the soft loan approval process but will keep the same borrower categories and loan conditions because the royal decree does not allow any changes in conditions.

Mr Ronadol said the loan adjustment is expected to be completed by this month and will be ready in the next few weeks.

The Bank of Thailand requires banks to report demand for the soft loan scheme every Monday, he said, and the central bank is monitoring loan demand and withdrawals.

“The BoT has talked to banks about soft loan demand and its barriers in order to improve the loan extension process,” Mr Ronadol said. “This will help support the liquidity of SME business operators battered by the outbreak and help overcome the crisis.”

According to central bank data, 51,991 SMEs have applied for the central bank’s soft loans with a credit line request of B80.7bn after the scheme’s applications were made available on April 1.

The central bank is offering the B500bn in soft loans at 0.01% interest to financial institutions for two years to re-lend to SMEs with a maximum credit line of B500 million at 2% interest. The government will absorb interest charges for six months for SMEs that receive soft loans.

To be eligible, SMEs must operate domestically, be non-listed companies, have a credit line of up to B500mn from financial institutions, and continue to service debt or make late payments of less than 90 days at the end of last year.

The maximum drawdown for the soft loans is set at 20% of each bank’s loans outstanding at the end of December. The government will partly compensate financial institutions for losses that are incurred.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on June 24, 2020 by Bangkok Post

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Phase 3 reopening generates more than 200bn baht monthly cash flow

15/06/2020

BANGKOK(NNT)-With many establishments returning to business as usual, Phase 3 of COVID-19 restriction easing has generated no less than 200 billion baht cash flow in the economy per month. To encourage businesses to adapt to the New Normal, the Thai Chamber of Commerce has launched a forum for the brainstorming of ideas on the next business trends that must comply with health regulations for safe business operations.

At the Thai Chamber of Commerce’s (TCC) seminar on the government’s Phase 3 of COVID-19 restriction easing, TCC Chairman Kalin Sarasin urged the private sector to prioritize health and safety protocols, as the resumption of business has resulted in no less than 200 billion baht monthly cash flow in the economy.

Some businesses are, however, still not allowed to operate due to higher risk of coronavirus transmission and a concern over the possibility for a second outbreak. Businesses in this category will be allowed to reopen in Phase 4 in the future.

The TCC chairman said he is confident the business sector can handle the precautionary measures, and are ready to welcome international investors and visitors, which will allow the economy to regenerate.

He said the general public are now willing to go out shopping, generating cash circulation in local economies, and helping to prevent economic performance from dropping further.

The TCC expects Thailand’s GDP this year will shrink by 3-5 percent, which is more optimistic than the IMF’s prediction at negative 6-7 percent.

A Senior Research Fellow at Thailand’s Development Research Institute (TDRI), Miss Saowaruj Rattanakhamfu, presented research on Work From Home benefits for both employers and employees, as this approach helps reduce the costs related to utilities, travel, clothing and recreation by an average of 3,000 baht each month.

Courtesy: Published at Business Thailand TV on June 13, 2020

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Globally – Thailand Ranks Second For Covid-19 Recovery

15/06/2020

Statistics say that Thailand ranks Second in the world for the highest Covid-19 recovery

According to a report issued by the Global COVID-19 Index (GCI) on 11 June 2020. Australia leads the way worldwide followed by Thailand.

Thailand leading the way in Asia

The Thai government facebook page PR Thai Government referenced data form the GCI.

Global COVID-19 Index (GCI) developed by PEMANDU Associates in collaboration with Malaysia’s Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MOSTI) and the Sunway Group.The index scores 184 countries on how well they are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following the same statistics provided (here) by the Global COVID-19 Index (GCI) Thailand is also number 1 in Asia.

Thailand’s successful measures to fight the global pandemic is the 11pm to 3am curfew. Now the curfew is being repealed, due to consistent low numbers. Most businesses are allowed to open.

Moving forward

Thailand is now entering Phase 4 of their nationwide covid-19 response. Businesses are beginning to reopen.

There are exceptions for the Phase 4 reopening. Nightclubs, erotic massage parlours (or “soapy massage”), inflatable castles and ball pits are still restricted.

Travel

Domestic flights are resuming across the country and can carry passengers at full capacity.

Transportation centers that operate buses, vans, and trains can also fully reopen – however passengers (in vehicles) must be capped at 70 percent.

Everyone will continue wearing a mask in public.

Hotels are now looking at the domestic market until the country fully reopens to international flights however.

Courtesy: Published at Asia Lifestyle Magazine on June 15, 2020

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Commerce Ministry announces another round of price drops on staple products

07/06/2020

The Thai Ministry of Commerce will soon launch a fourth round of price reductions, which will take place at a district level. The ministry has already received cooperation from the business sector to help those affected Covid-19 by lowering product prices, sometimes by as much as 68%, on 3 occasions,

In the fourth round, around 7,100 consumer goods are being added to the price reduction list. They will be sold at designated locations in 878 districts nationwide. People in those districts will be able to buy 5 kilograms of rice at a price of 95 baht, 10 chicken eggs for 20 baht, a bottle of cooking (palm) oil for 30 baht, canned fish at 10 baht and a kilogram of sugar for 20 baht.

This week, Deputy PM and Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit held a teleconference with provincial commerce officials. They were directed to promote the price reduction project to local people. The project will initially be launched in 45 districts tomorrow and all other districts by next month.

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on June 7, 2020 by NNT

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