TAT banking on niche to drive growth

TAT banking on niche to drive growth

Agency urges Thais to travel in country

TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said it's time for the country to move out of mass tourism or overtourism and provide responsible tourism instead. Pawat Laopaisarntaksin
TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said it's time for the country to move out of mass tourism or overtourism and provide responsible tourism instead. Pawat Laopaisarntaksin

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) will focus on premium and other niche markets as part of plans to achieve 10% growth next year to 3.71 trillion baht in tourism revenue.

TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said tourism has become a key engine to drive the economy but it's time for the country to move out of mass tourism or overtourism and provide responsible tourism instead.

"We will encourage tourists to travel to less congested areas because when visitors get to overcrowded attractions they will have a bad impression and that distorts the brand of Thailand," he said.

In turn, providing responsible tourism at each site could impress them and lead them to become repeat visitors with longer stays and higher spending, Mr Yuthasak said.

The governor on Monday arranged a meeting with TAT executives overseas to discuss strategic plans for each market to ensure that revenue from international arrivals will reach 2.43 trillion baht in 2020 as planned.

The balance will be made up by domestic travel, which is set at some 1.28 trillion baht. Both represent a 10% expansion from the year before.

The high growth is targeted despite a slow market in the first half of the year.

The latest report from the Tourism and Sports Ministry showed that foreign arrivals in the first six months grew sluggishly at a mere 0.7% for 19.6 million, contributing 1.01 trillion baht in tourism receipts or 0.3% year-on-year.

Tourism officials and operators blamed the weak global economy, the US-China trade spat and the strong baht as factors behind the slothful tourism industry.

Tourism permanent secretary Chote Trachu, however, expressed a more optimistic outlook for the second half, the high travel season. He also expects the new government to offer fresh stimulus measures to boost the local economy and tourism over the period.

The waiver of the 2,000-baht fee for visa-on-arrival, implemented for 21 countries including China and India, is scheduled to end on Oct 31.

Mr Yuthasak said a further extension of the visa waiver through the end of next March is under discussion.

He is also confident about improvement in the third quarter of the year but urged Thais to travel at home in order to keep domestic tourism sector afloat.

An estimated 10 million Thais travel abroad each year, and the strong baht will prompt some 11-12 million to make overseas trips, the TAT said.

The agency plans to inject a promotional budget to draw more tourists and ensure reaching the growth target of 9.5% in revenue this year.


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