Tourism soft power receives a nudge

Tourism soft power receives a nudge

Cost-of-living index also planned

Tourists at Wat Phra That Chedi Luang in Chiang Saen, Chiang Rai. Chiang Rai was approved as a designated area for sustainable tourism under a government scheme.
Tourists at Wat Phra That Chedi Luang in Chiang Saen, Chiang Rai. Chiang Rai was approved as a designated area for sustainable tourism under a government scheme.

The National Tourism Policy Committee is preparing to set up a subcommittee to integrate soft power promotion into the tourism industry and develop a cost-of-living index for travel destinations.

During a meeting of the committee on Monday, Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn floated the idea of setting up a subcommittee directly responsible for tourism promotion using soft power.

On Aug 19 the government set up a national committee in charge of the country's image promotion through soft power. The committee, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow, is meant to centralise soft power policy before delivering it to operational levels.

Thapanee Kiatphaibool, deputy governor for domestic marketing at the Tourism Authority of Thailand, said the policy panel explored the idea of promoting tourism through soft power and found the five categories earlier initiated by the government -- food, film, festivals, fashion and fighting -- can branch out to many tourism products.

As product development is the responsibility of different organisations, a subcommittee to supervise a soft power policy for tourism could be integrated, hopefully making any promotions more effective, according to the committee.

The group also agreed to conduct research on a cost-of-living index for tourism destinations, as proposed by the Commerce Ministry.

The committee said in 2019 the tourism industry generated 3.3 trillion baht in revenue, or 17.8% of Thai GDP, and can create income for various sectors, such as hotels, restaurants, retail shopping, tours and construction, while helping local communities.

A cost-of-living index should indicate the actual price of tourism services and products in each destination. The index should assist tourists in selecting destinations and planning trips that match their budgets, while the government would have a clearer view of how to plan tourism development and promotion, said the panel.

The index would also help authorities regulate reasonable prices for tourism products and services, and could be an official benchmark for international tourism guidebooks, such as Lonely Planet and Michelin Green Guide, said the committee. The Commerce and Tourism and Sports ministries were directed to work together on the project.

Meanwhile, the panel approved the listing of Chiang Rai as a designated area for sustainable tourism under the development theme of "Creative Chiang Rai", spanning 18 districts in the province and covering 11,687 square kilometres.

The Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (Dasta) is expected to draft a strategic plan for the new designated area and propose it to the committee at the next meeting, before submitting it to the cabinet for approval.

Dasta also received a nod from the committee regarding strategic plans for the Songkhla Lake basin.

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