Tourism revenue could very well surpass the 2 trillion baht forecast for 2015 thanks to higher numbers of visitors, says Deputy Prime Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong.
The revenue target was made before last year's number of inbound travellers overtook the predicted 22 million to reach 22.3 million, he said at the 12th annual general meeting of the Association of Thai Travel Agents and the Thai Hotel Association (THA).
Mr Kittiratt said the government must carry out several tasks to increase the spending of tourists and the duration of their stays.
He said investment to upgrade tourism sites in big cities such as Bangkok is an important job. He would like to see Rattanakosin Island developed as a prime tourism site.
"The country has as many as 90,000 national assets but our national museums cannot hold them all," he said.
Mr Kittiratt, who is also finance minister, said some government offices should be developed as tourism spots, while the landscape of Ratchadamnoen Avenue could be renovated.
"I urge the private sector to push ideas to the government to help develop more tourism places, which will eventually benefit the industry," he said.
Executives of the associations are upbeat about prospects this year. They believe the number of international tourist arrivals should continue to rise, while average Bangkok hotel room rates should increase by 5%.
THA president Surapong Techaruvichit said the average room rate in Bangkok is still the lowest among major tourism cities in the region.
In 2012, the average rate in Singapore was US$239 per night, followed by Ho Chi Minh City ($130), Manila ($126), Kuala Lumpur ($115), Hanoi ($110), Jakarta ($98) and Bangkok ($93).
Mr Surapong said a balance between supply and demand was essential if room rates were to increase.
Last year, the THA had 726 registered hotels with 129,077 rooms, of which 354 hotels were in Bangkok with 70,329 rooms. But 1,123 hotels were operating unofficially.
The average occupancy rate of hotels in Thailand last year increased by 6.49% to 64.91%.
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- Writer: Chadamas Chinmaneevong