Warning over competition in Asean

Warning over competition in Asean

Thai fruit promotion among proposals

Foreign travellers use an express check-in at Suvarnabhumi airport with assistance provided at some kiosks. Upgrading language skills for Thais in the tourism industry is an urgent task to keep the country a top tourism venue. SOMCHAI POOMLARD
Foreign travellers use an express check-in at Suvarnabhumi airport with assistance provided at some kiosks. Upgrading language skills for Thais in the tourism industry is an urgent task to keep the country a top tourism venue. SOMCHAI POOMLARD

Thailand's tourism industry should quickly solve its labour shortage and upgrade the language skills of Thai staff if the country wants to remain a top destination in Asean.

The warning came as many countries are seriously promoting their tourism sectors to make up for others that are slowing down. For example, Japan offers free visas to visitors from many countries including Thailand while Indonesia has waived the luxury tax for tourists.

Chanin Donavanik, head of the advisory board for the Pracha Rat (People's State) initiative, said with competition getting tougher, Thailand must work harder and solve long-standing problems in the tourism industry.

Pracha Rat will propose recommendations to the government after the approval of the Quick Win tourism project. Details of the scheme to boost domestic tourism will be sent to Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak on Feb 19.

"If the government agrees with the recommendations, they will go into effect at the end of April," he said.

Pracha Rat revealed 11 suggestions yesterday to media. They included promoting the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions industry as well as Thai food and fruit among foreign tourists, upgrading Thailand as a shopping paradise, extending the length of visas for retirees from Japan and some European countries, and launching a one-stop website for tourism information.

The group wants the government to ease some laws and regulations to allow illegal hotels to register legally, reduce the industry's dependence on Chinese tourists, support local airlines flying to secondary cities in other Asean countries, and enhance tourist safety.

Foreign tourists are expected to total 32 million this year, while domestic tourism is projected to exceed 140 million trips. The number of tourists at Thailand's six international airports is estimated to be 120-130 million this year.

Mr Chanin said the Tourism Authority of Thailand had video clips to promote Thai food and fruits under the 12 months, 12 dishes, 12 fruits theme on aircraft. The six international airports will also have kiosks for Thai food and fruit.

"We have to change the perception of selling fruit as a community product. We should designate them as quality products. We want to see tourists buy Thai fruit like tourists buy sweets in Japan," he said.   

Mr Chanin said the tourism gateway website will include reservation service, tourism destination information, restaurant recommendations in every province and Thai products.

"Tourists can find where to buy Thai silk in Thailand in just a few clicks," he said.

The site also allows people to review their trips, while local tour operators can promote products. Mr Chanin said small companies can use it as a marketing tool.

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