Thailand’s council of the economic ministers has approved in principle new measures proposed by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports to boost tourism in the short, medium and long terms.

Short-term measures, which will be implemented in the remaining months of 2019, aim to fulfill the target of welcoming 39.8 million foreign visitors and generating 2.04 trillion THB this year.

Kobsak Pootrakool, deputy secretary-general to Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha for political affairs, said the short-term measures include free re-entry visas for foreign tourists who visit neighbouring countries by land, increased value-added tax (VAT) refund agents, more downturn VAT refund venues and VAT refunds in cash on the spot.

Companies will also be allowed to claim deductions of up to two times expenses if they organize seminars in the country while rules relating to the travel of foreigners, who receive a long-term visa, within Thailand will be reviewed, he said.

Kobsak added the government will open checkpoints with Laos and Malaysia around the clock during weekends and long holidays. This measure is to last three months.

For medium- and long-term measures, he said the hotel and other accommodation providers will be offered financial help, in the form of loans, to upgrade their properties, while new safety rules will be put in place to lessen the risks of accidents or death for tourists.

Thailand also plans to host major entertainment and sporting events in an effort to increase the number of visitors, while trying to attract more international conferences to the country.

Earlier this week, Thai Minister of Tourism and Sports Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn has said the ministry is pushing for cuts in tariffs on branded products to foster tourism sector, a key economic sector of the country.

Last year, Thailand welcomed 38.2 million foreign tourist arrivals, a year-on-year increase of 7.3 percent. Next year, the country expects to welcome 41.8 million foreign visitors, who will spend 2.22 trillion THB.

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