The government of Thailand has begun the race to turn Thailand into Asia`s tourism hub, with strategies for the transformation of the kingdom into…
The government of Thailand has begun the race to turn Thailand into Asia`s tourism hub, with strategies for the transformation of the kingdom into a regional tourism centre set to be submitted to the cabinet for consideration by the end of the year, Tourism and Sports Minister Sontaya Kunplome announced.
Speaking at a seminar on the development of competitiveness in the tourism industry, organized by the Tourism Federation of Thailand to mark its first anniversary, Mr. Sontaya said that the ministry was making haste to draw up strategic plans that would see Thailand emerge as a regional tourism hub by the years 2004-2006.
Expressing confidence that the plans would be ready for submission to the cabinet by the end of the year, he said that the ministry`s strategies would put marketing at the core, whether in terms of the development of tourism products and destinations, or the search for new tourism markets.
He forecast that once the plans were put into practice, Thailand would see visitor numbers grow by no less than 10 percent each year, with average visitor spending up from Bt3,700 to Bt4,000 per day.
Mr. Sontaya also noted that the government was introducing short-term measures to kick-start the tourism industry, such as offering low-price airline tickets.
While conceding that Thailand`s tourism industry had been dealt a blow this year by concerns over Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and terrorism, and that as a result the government had reduced its annual visitor arrival forecast from 11.4 million tourists to only 9.7 million, he expressed confidence that these short-term measures would, in fact, push up total visitor arrivals for the year to 10 million.
President of the Tourism Federation of Thailand Wichit Na Ranong, meanwhile, revealed a five-pronged plan to boost the competitiveness of Thailand`s tourism industry– by developing run-down tourist destinations, solving problems of unequitable treatment of tourists by a small number of companies, boosting tourist access in terms of providing sufficient airline seats, and improving domestic transportation in order to ensure that tourists did not end up concentrated in a small number of destinations, adding to the value of both old and new tourist destinations, and by working to ensure the long-term confidence of tourists in Thailand`s safety from terrorism.
Mr. Wichit advocated that in order to combat the possibility of terrorist threats, Thailand should ensure the stringent inspection of all visitors arriving in the country, tighten regulations concerning the issuance of visas, and train both tourism companies and members of the public to take care of visitors to tourism destinations across the country.
He noted that security measures put in place for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Finance Minister`s meeting in the southern resort island of Phuket earlier this month and for the APEC leadership summit in Bangkok in October would demonstrate Thailand`s commitment to tourist safety.
Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales. She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.