For a country that saw 38.27 million tourists in 2018, it may surprise you to learn that Thailand thinks it needs more.
While 38.27 million is objectively large, 20 million international visitors flocked to Bangkok, the most visited city in the world, in 2018. In October, Ko Phi Phi Le’s Maya Bay, which rose to fame thanks to the 2000 Leonardo DiCaprio film, The Beach, closed indefinitely due to over tourism.
The rest of Thailand is not getting as much attention, and the Thai government wants to change that.
In an effort to increase domestic tourism, Thailand’s Finance Ministry has set aside 15 million baht ($467,730 USD) to pay people to travel around the country, Thai news source The Nation reported. The Finance Ministry has sent their proposal to Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak and the Cabinet for consideration.
Should the proposal be accepted, anyone who signs up for the program will receive 1,500 baht ($47 USD) via an e-payment system. The money can then be spent at participating shops in 55 provinces that are part of the campaign.
“We aim to launch the campaign before July this year,” a representative from the Finance Ministry told The Nation.
Before you get too excited, you must have Thai citizenship and be at least 18 years old in order to register. The Finance Ministry has not yet announced how to apply, but it is expecting applications from ten million Thai citizens.
The government hopes that this initiative will have a positive impact on the country’s economy, particularly in rural areas, whose welfare has been suffering from drought.
Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of Tourism Authority of Thailand, told Vice that the campaign will bring Thailand’s GDP up from 0.3 to 0.5 percent.
Not a Thai citizen? Don’t let that stop you from getting outside of Bangkok and Phuket. From Koh Libong island in Trang to Mae Ya waterfall in the Chiang Mai Province, Thailand is a wonderland of hidden gems waiting for you to explore.