Tourism Authority of Thailand rethinks strategy as 2020 doubts grow

Tourism Authority of Thailand rethinks strategy as 2020 doubts grow

Project focuses on local operators

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has revised its 2020 strategy, aiming to piggyback on local operators to survive the economic slowdown and intense competition.

"The TAT will implement the YOU project, which stands for Yield, Overcome and Uncertainty," said TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn. "The main purpose is to help local operators get higher yield, overcome challenging factors and come up with efficient risk management against uncertainty."

All 45 domestic TAT offices will be assigned to talk directly with local operators to assess problems in each area, find proper solutions and devise a risk management plan.

The priority task is to solve the cumulative problems of Thai tourism, including safety, tourism scams, overcrowding and insufficient facilities such as airports, immigration control and public transport.

Meanwhile, the agency will reach out to tourism-related business such as spas, diving sites, golf courses and restaurants, to help them create more standardised products and services.

The new strategies will depend on online partnership more than before, as traditional marketing in the form of trade shows abroad may not be an effective marketing tool anymore.

With the methodology called Plug In, the TAT will collaborate with private sector innovators that have a technological advantage, such as TripAdvisor, Agoda, Expedia, Alibaba and Grab, to enhance the capability of tourism business.

The Digital Economy Promotion Agency will provide digital marketing training for local operators and help them create a "digital mindset" to survive in the age of technology disruption.

As the fiscal budget is delayed, Mr Yuthasak said the cooperation will benefit all stakeholders equally.

"We have to brace for the economic slowdown which is prevailing now," he said. "For example, the IMF has lowered the forecast of economic growth in 2020 from 3.4% to 3.3% due to several factors."

Moreover, Thai tourism is facing fierce competition from other countries that hope tourism revenue will lubricate their sluggish economies.

Mr Yuthasak said many countries have already implemented visa facilitation, one of the effective measures to stimulate the decision-making process of those considering multiple destinations.

The growth of the international market was 4.2% last year with 39.79 million international arrivals, according to the Tourism and Sports Ministry.

This year, the agency aims to achieve 2.5% growth with at least 40.78 million international travellers.

The TAT is holding discussions with the UN Development Programme to introduce the responsible tourism agenda as a flagship project.

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