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Thailand is closing its inbound duty-free shops at international airports. Here's why

By Camille Santiago Published Jul 09, 2024 10:58 am

Thailand is closing duty-free shops in the airports, but it's not to discourage spending.

In a move to boost the economy, Thailand announced plans to close duty-free shops located in the arrival areas of its international airports.

A government spokesperson confirmed the decision, highlighting the goal of encouraging tourists to spend their money elsewhere in the country.

Three operators managing inbound duty-free businesses have already agreed to comply. This would affect eight international airports, namely Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Hat Yai, U-tapao, Samui, and Krabi.

However, no date has been announced yet as to when this would take effect, reported the Bangkok Post.

In 2023, the sales from arrival duty-free shops amounted to 3.02 million baht (P4.8 million), according to the customs department.

This move would increase the spending of foreign visitors by about 570 baht (P915) per person per trip.

Thailand is set to hit a tourism boom in 2024, targeting 40 million foreign visitors. The country has already welcomed 17.5 million tourists in the first half of the year, a 35% surge compared to the same period in 2023.

In other news, some outbound shops and government agencies at Suvarnabhumi and Phuket airports have been "taken back" to be converted to passenger facilities such as waiting areas or children's playgrounds.

Airports of Thailand, as reported by Bangkok Post, cited complaints of travelers forced to sit on the floor due to a scarcity of seats caused by the extensive number of shops within the airport.