Thailand nixes on-arrival duty free shopping

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(PHOTO: Shutterstock)

Aviation Festival AFA 728 x 90Duty-free shops in arrivals areas of international airports in Thailand will be closed to encourage more spending by visitors in domestic stores, the Thai cabinet has said. The move is expected to generate up to THB3.5 billion (US$96 million) of new local retail spending a year.

Rudklao Intawong Suwankiri, a deputy spokesperson of the Thai Government, said that ministers acknowledged guidelines for promoting Thailand as a tourism and spending hub, as proposed by the Ministry of Finance, according to a report in the Bangkok Post.

She noted that all the three operators of inbound duty-free businesses have agreed to suspend the operations at eight international airports, namely Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Hat Yai, U-tapao, Samui, and Krabi. This aligns with the government’s policy to promote spending in domestic stores. Information on the timing of the move has yet to be revealed.

Statistics from the Customs Department show that sales from inbound duty-free shops totaled THB3.02 billion in 2023. Rudklao said the ability of travellers to purchase goods from inbound duty-free shops reduces the opportunity for spending on domestic goods. The country’s Finance Ministry estimates that the closure of inbound duty-free shops will raise foreign tourists’ spending by THB570 per person each trip.

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