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Australia to help Thai tousim recover

Australia is planning to spend $A1.5 million on a program to support coastal recovery efforts in tsunami-affected southern regions…

Australia is planning to spend $A1.5 million on a program to support coastal recovery efforts in tsunami-affected southern regions of Thailand, as part of efforts to promote sustainable tourism development.

The program is led by the Queensland government through the federal government`s overseas aid program.

Former Brisbane mayor Sallyanne Atkinson, now a special representative for the Queensland government, says the program is aimed at reviving coastal areas and encourage sustained tourism in the tsunami affected areas.

But Atkinson, who`s in Thailand on an official visit, says the assistance goes beyond a simple aid program.

It`s not just a matter of putting money into Thailand, it`s a matter of helping Australian tourism to learn some lessons from Thai tourism, she said.

What it really means is looking at ways to make tourism sustainable in those areas and sustainable in the long term. Under the assistance program, Queensland will be working in areas such as coral reef reconstruction and infrastructure management.

It is a chance to do some planning to think about what it is people need and what it is that tourists want, to look to the lessons of the past and use them for the future, Atkinson said.

The Thai government announced plans last week to revitalise local tourism along the Andaman Coast as well as revive basic infrastructure and develop human resources.

Thailand`s tourism industry in the Andaman Sea region, which includes Phuket and Phi Phi islands, remains in the doldrums despite high-profile efforts to lure foreign travellers back.

Pacific Asia Travel Association data says international arrivals have fallen by up 70 per cent in the affected areas.

Local authorities have called for up to one billion baht ($A33 million) to revive the tourism industry and boost infrastructure.

More than 5,000 people lost their lives in the Boxing Day tsunami in Thailand, with just over 1,500 bodies still awaiting identification.

I`m wanting to take the message back home that Thailand`s tourism industry is alive and well and is very resilient, Atkinson said. (AAP-TNA)

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