Call for more tourists in the provinces

Call for more tourists in the provinces

Tourists take a stroll and take pictures at Thao To waterfall in Nong Bua Lamphu province. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
Tourists take a stroll and take pictures at Thao To waterfall in Nong Bua Lamphu province. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

The Federation of Thai SMEs is asking the government to draw more foreign tourists to second-tier provinces in a move to help drive local economies and support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The suggestion comes as Thailand prepares for the return of Chinese tourists after Beijing announced plans to reopen its borders on Jan 8.

Authorities should consider launching new tourism packages to promote trips to provinces that are less popular than Chiang Mai in the North and Phuket in the South, instead featuring areas rich in natural attractions and unique culture, said federation president Sangchai Theerakulwanich.

"Most foreigners tend to travel to well-known tourist sites in Chiang Mai, Phuket and Bangkok," he said.

"If they include other provinces on their trips, their visits will boost the local economy and SMEs in those provinces."

Local operators of restaurants, hotels, spa services and even farmers would benefit from such visits.

Mr Sangchai believes this would be a way of distributing income to households and businesses upcountry.

"The federation has yet to see the launch of campaigns to promote second-tier tourist attractions since Thailand fully reopened last year," he said.

"This is the right time for the government to come up with new tourism campaigns."

Authorities could use the cultural richness of second-tier provinces as soft power to boost foreigners' awareness of Thailand's image, said Mr Sangchai.

He said the federation also wants the government to provide help to SMEs that aim to improve their services to better match the needs of foreign visitors.

"Many SMEs run businesses related to tourism. They are eager to learn new business skills that can be applied in the tourism industry," said Mr Sangchai.

He also suggested the state and private sector join hands to develop software and applications to facilitate foreign tourists who are planning to travel to Thailand.

Mr Sangchai said this move would help business operators cut costs because they currently need to buy services from online apps, developed in other countries, to promote their businesses, including accommodation services.

The return of the Chinese market to the Thai tourism industry should help pace the sector this year, he said. Their visits played a key role in driving Thai GDP before Covid-19 hit the country in early 2020.

Beijing's decision to reopen borders and put an end to mandatory quarantine on arrival is expected to encourage Chinese people to plan trips overseas.

While the revival of the Chinese market should increase arrival numbers, it also led to worries over Covid infections.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha addressed such concerns on Tuesday, saying measures are in place to ensure the return of Chinese tourists does not have any impact on public health.

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