Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn was yesterday re-elected president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) for another two-year term and vowed to solve lingering problems facing the travel industry.
Sisdivachr: Guide problem to be solved
After a unanimous vote by members, he said his priorities were to solve a labour shortage and to improve the services of tour operators.
The big increase in international tourist arrivals since the end of last year has caused a shortage of staff and facilities, particularly buses, bus drivers and tour guides.
During the first two months of this year, international arrivals increased by 19% to 4.56 million. Chinese tourists surged by 90% to 725,796, Japanese increased by 44% to 274,398 and Russians rose by 22% to 238,324.
"It's a crisis in the tour business right now. I'm worried about the rising number of tourists, particularly from China and Russia. They may have bad experiences if we can't serve them with high-quality service and facilities. This will eventually hurt the overall tourism sector," said Mr Sisdivachr.
The launch of the Asean Economic Community in 2016 will bring a need for more than 1,000 bus drivers.
ATTA plans to increase the number of tour guides to serve demand for big markets such as China, Russia, South Korea and Japan.
Although tens of thousands of guides have been registered at the Department of Tourism, only 3,000 to 4,000 are active.
Mr Sisdivachr said he would focus on solving the problem and work closely with the department to produce qualified people for the industry.
Major language courses in Russian, Chinese, Indonesian and Korean, each for 30-60 guides, will start soon.
In the past four years, Mr Sisdivachr has introduced information technology to the association, helping information exchange among members.
He also arranged mini-MBA courses for ATTA personnel, reformed their work and promoted unity among members.
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- Writer: Chadamas Chinmaneevong