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Loans offered for tourism operators

The Thai government announced Tuesday a loan program worth of five billion baht (142.8 million U. S. dollars) to business operators in the tourism industry, who have been affected by the closure of two airports late last year.


In late November to early December last year, the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) - led protestors caused to the closure of Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports in the climax of their protests against the Somchai Wongsawat-led Government, which resulted in the great loss to the country's tourism industry and international image.


It is estimated that business damages caused by the closure of the two airports is valued at around 60 billion baht (1.70 billion U.S. dollars), according to the Thai Tourism and Sport Ministry.


The affected businesses are in the hotel, restaurant and tour sector, and in the tourism-related sectors such as transportation, spa, entertainment and souvenir companies, said Chumpol Silpa- archa, Tourism and Sport Minister.


From now until April 30, the affected business operators can apply for the loan, with a low-interest rate of 2 percent per annum for the first two years, said Chumpol.


The five billion baht loan is managed by state-run financial institutions, including the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank of Thailand, and private commercial banks.


Solving the problem in the tourism industry is the easiest compared to solving problems in other sectors, including the exports and investments, said Chumpol.


In other words, he said the tourism industry is seen to concretely and quickly bring in foreign revenues to the country to offset the sharply falling revenues from the export sector.


(Xinhua News Agency March 18, 2009)