TCT says local industry lagging

TCT says local industry lagging

Tourists visit Wat Phra Chetuphon in Bangkok early this month. (Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)
Tourists visit Wat Phra Chetuphon in Bangkok early this month. (Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)

Thai tourism is lagging behind neighbouring countries in terms of tourism development and practical solutions to cushion the impact of the prolonged Covid-19 pandemic, geopolitical tensions and economic setbacks, according to the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT).

"Singapore has outperformed us in terms of creating opportunities for the tourism industry by becoming the hub of Southeast Asia aviation," said Chamnan Srisawat, president of the TCT.

He said Singapore can reap benefits from robust international flights as travellers also visit the island for a short excursion before or after flying to other destinations, while the government has provided a budget to help offset the costs for stakeholders in the tourism business.

There are many local land operators in the South which help organise tour groups coming to Thailand via Singapore. It is effective marketing as Singapore has limited tourism resources due to its geography.

"Air traffic in Singapore was very busy, especially compared to Thailand which was just 30% of the level recorded before the pandemic. Connectivity is our pain point at the moment. Financial aid might be essential for tourism to recover, but we need more than this to bring in tourists. We still need 12-16 million arrivals to sustain the whole industry, not just a few popular destinations," he said.

"There are many solutions to increase capacity to Thailand, such as giving a subsidy to airlines or co-investing in a promotional campaign with them. However, most of the plans we proposed to the Prime Minister last month haven't been responded to," said Mr Chamnan.

Tourism representatives on July 18 met with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to propose the 1-billion baht Booster Shot project aiming to create more international and local tourism demand.

The plan also needs approval from the Centre for Economic Situation Administration which has yet to schedule a meeting.

He said the conclusion from roaming meetings with tourism operators in provinces during the first seven month saw the main problem of Thai tourism, which is the lack of practical solutions to any crises, whether the impact of the Russian-Ukraine war, the rift between China and Taiwan, rising inflation and the hike in the interest rate.

Mr Chamnan said a recent visit to Vietnam showed that the country has progressed very well in tourism development and can attract foreign investment and cooperation, such as in the resort city of Phu Quoc, which is one of the emerging destinations.

"We talked about new drivers, such as wellness tourism and gastronomy tourism. Unfortunately, we only have tentative plans without implementation. If the government would like to develop those products more seriously, it should draw up a white paper to let everyone follow the same and clear direction," said Mr Chamnan.

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