Tourists promised free interactive app

Tourists promised free interactive app

The view of Kata, Kata Noi and Karon beaches in Phuket. The government is integrating information from various agencies to provide quality information to tourists.
The view of Kata, Kata Noi and Karon beaches in Phuket. The government is integrating information from various agencies to provide quality information to tourists.

The Ministry of Tourism and Sports, in collaboration with Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (DE), will launch an interactive mobile application for tourists early next year.

As part of the government's digital tourism road map, the mobile app will aim to promote tourism activities, according to DE minister Pichet Durongkaveroj.

To be offered free of charge, the mobile app will gather and integrate all tourism-related information that have been provided by several agencies. This includes information from the Immigration Bureau, online booking, journey planning, events calendar, digital tour guide and landmarks in provinces as well as availability of public services including areas with free WiFi hotspots.

Today tourism is a major revenue generators to the country with almost 30 million foreign arrivals from Jan 1 to Oct 11 this year, an increase of 5.6% from 2016. They brought 1.37 trillion baht in revenue, a 7.6% increase year-on-year.

The government assigned the Ministry of Tourism and Sports to adopt digital technology to develop the database through integrated application in collaboration with the DE Ministry and other agencies.

Mr Pichet said the Ministry of Tourism has a big database related to tourism businesses and services while the DE Ministry is responsible for technical infrastructure.

Electronic Government Agency, Digital Economy Promotion Agency and CAT Telecom under the DE Ministry have been providing support for the development of the mobile app platform.

The DE Ministry will act as decision support system for the digital tourism implementation.

Previously, CAT Telecom was awarded contract to provide free WiFi hotspots in Phuket town. Phuket was also designated the first smart city by the government in 2015, which aimed to embrace multiple innovative digital technologies by enhancing the use and management of local assets and other community services.

Phuket and Chiang Mai have been designated investment centres for high-technology -- so-called digital superclusters.

Mr Pichet said integrated information and database via the mobile app platform will be continuously developed through collaboration among the agencies and ministries in line with increasing information, innovative tech adoption and creating better digital content aimed at providing accurate information to tourists.

"It would be good if information could be delivered to tourists with virtual reality technology," he said.

Additionally, all registered hotels, guest houses and resorts will be congregated onto the e-commerce platform and be accessible by the mobile application.

There are around 300,000 hospitality providers nationwide, more than 70% of them have yet to service their customers digitally.

"We expect tourists will get more benefits from better information support that will create quality leisure destinations and creative tourism," said the minister.

According to Ministry of Tourism reports, tourists last year spent 5,000 baht a day and 9.5 days per head when they visited Thailand.

The mobile app project aims to attract more quality tourists to Thailand with the expectation they will spend more money and time. Chinese tourists have remained the largest and highest-spending group for years.

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