H.E. Mr. Jukr Boon-Long, Ambassador of Thailand in Norway: Thailand holds a strong appeal to Norway
H.E. Mr. Jukr Boon-Long, Ambassador of Thailand in Norway, talks to TravelDailyNews Asia-Pacific for the Norwegian market as well as the Embassy’s efforts to highlight Thai culture and increase the tourists’ flow to Thailand.
We had the opportunity to meet with H.E. Mr. Jukr Boon-Long, Ambassador of Thailand in Norway at his residence in Oslo where he hosted the TAT’s delegation during the pre-WTM 2015 roadshow. H.E. discussed with us the dynamic of the Norwegian market for Thailand’s tourism and the efforts of the Embassy to present Thai culture to Norwegians in order to increase the tourists’ flow in Thailand.
TravelDailyNews: How important is Thailand market for Norway regarding Tourism and Commerce and vise-versa?
Jukr Boon-Long: It certainly clear that Thailand holds a strong appeal to Norway – I mean, statistics speak for themselves; with approximately 160.000 Norwegians traveling to Thailand as tourists annually. Thailand is a country that can offer something to every member of the family; it is a shopping paradise, a country with wide cultural diversity, and of course, its warm climate offers a nice break from cold days in Norway. As for commerce, there is no doubt that Thailand is the right country in which to start businesses – Southeast Asia in general is an area with a lot of potential. Thailand is a center of the countries of Southeast Asia, strategically placed with a network of railroads connected to surrounding countries and the best flight connections throughout Asia. Thailand could function as a hub for countries interested in making investments. The ASEAN economic community comprises a market of 600 million – so this is definitely something Norway should look into.
TDN: What initiatives do the Royal Thai Embassy take and what activities organize in order to bring Norwegians closer to the Thai culture and attract more tourists in Thailand?
J.B.L.: We organize several cultural activities. In Oslo, we have an annual Thai Food Fair at Youngstorget in the summer. We also organize cooking classes for people interested in Thai cooking, textile exhibitions, and have had a Bencharong exhibition at the Museum of Cultural History where people could go and see royal porcelain from Siam and learn about its history. We also help local Thai communities spread out all over Norway organize events meant to enhance Norwegians' knowledge and understanding of Thai culture. We are a country with much history and a lot to experience – Thailand is not only a country you can go to lounge in a sunbed on the beach.
TDN: From your experience, what is the perception Norwegians have about Thailand and its people?
J.B.L.: I am not sure if I am the right person to ask about Norwegians' impression of Thailand – perhaps you should ask a Norwegian instead. However, I suppose I could venture a guess. I think Norwegians' impression of Thai people is that we are friendly, welcoming people with a service attitude. I also think Norwegians consider us good residents; people who abide by the law, help out in the community, pay taxes and work hard. Thai people do not come to Norway to live off welfare – we are industrious, reliable people.
TDN: How big and active is the Thai community in Norway?
J.B.L.: The Thai community in Norway is actually quite large. There are about 16000 Thai people scattered all over Norway – all the way up to Longyearbyen. There are Thai communities in Alta, Tromso, Bergen, Alesund, Trondheim, and Stavanger. These communities are quite active and do their best to help newcomers – share information about Norwegian laws, help one another adapt to the new culture. I would say that Thai people integrate very well in Norway – in fact, there is even a Thai girl on Svalbard running for local election.
TDN: How could Thailand enhance its image in Norway in the future in order to support Tourism and Commerce with the help of the Embassy?
J.B.L.: The Embassy is doing its best to promote Thailand and its culture, as I already mentioned above, and Thai communities all over Norway are doing the same. The next step is to organize seminars on business opportunities and open up a dialogue with the Chamber of Commerce.