With the tourism industry the one solid pillar holding up Thailand’s economy, the government is making moves to develop the nation into a luxury shopping paradise to rival Singapore and Hong Kong.
It’s been proposed that the current 30 percent import duty on luxury goods be slashed in a bid to boost tourist spending, reports The Post.
“If our import tax on luxury products in Thailand is not different from Hong Kong and Singapore, Thailand will become a shopping paradise and our tourism will take the lead since the cost of living is lower while hospitality and hotel facilities are superb,” claims chief executive of The Mall Group, Phaibul Kanokvatanawan.
A cut in the luxury tax could spur tourist spending sprees by between 15 to 20 percent, says Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
At the moment, tourists spend an average of just ฿1,208 (US$33) per day on shopping – half as much as tourists in Singapore and a quarter as much as tourists in Hong Kong.
The Department of Customs will be meeting with representatives from the private sector shortly to hash out the details of the cut before approaching the permanent secretary for finance, Somchai Sujjapongse, with their proposal, according to Customs director general Kulit Sombatsiri.
Part of the proposal will include an increase in the number of stations that can provide tourists with VAT refunds, The Nation says. There are currently 7,000 such stations and it is hoped that figure will grow to 100,000.
These proposals come in the wake of the 7-day tax break over the festive shopping period, which has been estimated by the Ministry of Finance to have boosted Thailand’s GDP for 2015 by between 0.1 to 0.2 percentage points.
Bangkok is already regarded as a prime shopping destination, if not quite in the same league as Singapore and Hong Kong.
Siam Paragon, for instance, was ranked Facebook’s sixth most talked about place in the world in 2015, and was the only Asian destination to break the top 10. As well as offering a plethora of entertainment and dining services, Paragon is regarded as perhaps Thailand’s most luxurious shopping destination.
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