Joining an increasing chorus of concerned prominent entertainment, hotel, restaurant, tourism, and other business operators calling for financial aid and support from the Thai Government for Covid-19 related closures and rules were prominent members of each industry, especially the hotel industry, at a meeting held yesterday in Pattaya.
The meeting was held at a hotel in the Pattaya area (with proper social distancing taking place) with prominent movers and shakers in the Chonburi business industry such as Prao Sae Ku, President of the Eastern Thai Hotels Association, and Mr. Thanet Suphorn Sahasrangsi, Acting Chairman of the Chonburi Province Tourism Council.
All agreed that the current situation was not like last year’s series of closures as the government had quickly acted with social security assistance, programs for informal workers, soft loans, debt cancellations, electric and water discounts, and related measures. The business leaders claimed that, in their opinion, since this round was only affecting certain provinces the level of aid and urgency was much less. They claimed that Chonburi, which contains Pattaya that saw nearly ten million tourists in 2019 and was the 19th most visited city in the world, making trillions of baht for the country, could face a total collapse of its vital tourism infrastructure as well as nearly every other related industry from hospitality, transportation, retail, entertainment, health and beauty and more if not given financial aid and government support.
Pattaya in particular was singled out as being vulnerable as the city relies on domestic and international tourism for an estimated 80 percent of its GDP. The business leaders stated that although some people only saw nightlife or tourist attractions when they looked at Pattaya the damage being done to the city overall due to Covid-19 related measures was, in their words, “devastating nearly every industry, business, and venue in Pattaya no matter what sector they are in, including places many don’t think about like the medical and dental industry which relies on heavy medical tourism in Pattaya, the transportation sector or construction and repair work which has suffered due to lack of new venues being developed and many current venues being closed and not needing the service of repair people.”
The group of business owners gave an unofficial estimate that roughly eighty to ninety percent of ALL businesses (not just tourism, entertainment, or hospitality related) were currently closed in Pattaya proper, even if allowed to open. (This estimate doesn’t include areas outside of the city proper, such as Banglamung, etc.) Of those remaining open nearly all except essential supermarkets were struggling, the group claimed.
The group came up with six measures that have been officially proposed to the Chonburi Governor and the Thai Government as well as prominent lobbying organizations from the hotel, entertainment, hospitality, and tourism industry to help relieve the situation in Pattaya and Chonburi and save what they call essential infrastructure. This is in addition to a formal proposal that we reported on yesterday to order the forced closure of hotels in Chonburi so their staff may collect social security and the hotels can save essential funds during a time when they have no customers.
1. Extend the Social Security Fund to pay workers compensation for another 200 days (There have also been requests to assist the massive number of informal workers who cannot collect social security)
2. Reduce Social Security contributions/required fees to employers to 1%
3. Reduce and discount water and electricity bills for residents and business owners in areas that are high control zones until the end of 2021.
4. Exemption of minimum tariffs for large tourism entrepreneurs and hotels.
5. Waivers on nearly every type of government license fee for 2021 for businesses affected by the closures. (Land, alcohol, guest, music, entertainment licenses, etc.)
6. Issuing measures to control debt for those applicable by not collecting interest for 6 months or until the situation improves.
At this time these are all proposals, we will inform our readers if any of these are approved as they would affect a large number of local residents and business owners if they are.