SURAT THANI : The Tourism and Sports Ministry may set up a national tourism development fund to give local administrations more flexibility in maintaining and developing their own tourism sites in the long term.
To do so, some laws may be revised, most likely those involving local tax collection and decentralisation.
Currently, local administrations lack budgets to look after natural tourist attractions in their areas. The annual budget from the government is limited and they are reluctant to raise funds themselves.
Apart from the ministry's fiscal budget, they can tap the fund to maintain and upgrade their tourism sites.
"Local administrations can manage the money they receive from the fund by themselves, allowing them to better take care of their popular sites," said Tourism and Sports Minister Somsak Phurisisak.
Natural tourism attractions need high maintenance budgets every year and the division of responsibilities among government agencies is unclear.
For example, three waste-water treatment sites on Koh Samui have been damaged since a major flood hit the island in 2010. They have yet to be repaired because it is unclear which agency should take up the repair works _ the natural resource and environment, interior or tourism ministries.
More importantly, the local administration does not have the money to fix them by itself.
Each province will be given a budget for tourism development from the fund based on its revenue and return.
A province which generates more revenue to the Finance Ministry will receive an appropriate fiscal budget from the central government. In the future, it can even borrow from financial institutions to build basic infrastructure projects.
Koh Samui generated 15 billion baht revenue from tourism with one million tourist arrivals last year. The arrivals to the island are expected to double in 2015, bringing in revenue of 25 billion baht.
Currently, Koh Samui is facing many problems, from shortages of energy and wastewater treatment to more comprehensive tourist safety.
Major tourist cities such as Phuket, Chon Buri and Surat Thani agreed the initiative could help resolve their financial problem and give them a free hand to develop new sites.
Mr Somsak said he had already talked with Finance Minister Kittirat Na Ranong about this model and Mr Kittiratt agreed in principle.
The tourism ministry plans to push this policy to be discussed in the Parliament in October.
About the author
- Writer: Saengwit Kewaleewongsatorn
Position: Business Reporter