Tourism Department mulls safety legislation

Tourism Department mulls safety legislation

The Tourism Department is considering proposing a new bill for measures involving tourism safety in an attempt to restore tourist confidence.

Mr Anan says the new measures include closing Patong beach at night.

New measures are necessary after a number of tourists died in Thailand in recent months because of a lack of effective precaution measures, especially regarding marine tourism. Many accidents have happened because of violations of travel warnings, said Anan Wongbenjarat, director-general of the department.

Mr Anan said lack of implementation of safety measures have damaged Thailand's image and turned many tourists away to other countries. To restore their confidence, the country should have a new law and enforce it effectively.

Part of the new law will include zoning and controlling business operation hours in some areas, he said, with Phuket the primary target.

Under the plan, the department wants the government to close Patong beach at night for tourist safety, tightening measures on tourism boats such as operating time and routing to lower risks, and zone diving areas.

Mr Anan said the department and the ministry administrate tourism businesses under the tourism law, giving them the authority to help victims but not prevent disasters.

He plans to float the idea to Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat soon to tender the proposal to the cabinet.

Mr Anan said improvement of tourist safety is among goals for the 2019 operating year, which started on Oct 1 and runs to Sept 30, 2019.

The department outlined policy for this year with a major focus on strengthening community-based tourism by developing new destinations, improving tourism operations to increase convenience and cleanliness in accordance to international standards, and using digital technology and innovations to strengthen Thai tourism as a whole.

The policy is in line with the government's 20-year national strategy to sharpen Thailand's competitiveness in the service sectors and improve quality of life and income.

The goals are to bridge disparity, increase access to government services, create job opportunities and sustainable sources of income, stimulate the local economy, empower local communities under the Pracha Rat participatory development model, create community-based tourism networks between communities, provinces, and regions, and to develop Otop Tourism Villages.

This year, the department is set to develop tourist destinations under the government's five-point national tourism strategies: innovative and cultural tourism for primary and secondary provinces; business tourism; health, beauty, and Thai traditional medicine tourism; cruise tourism; and regional tourism.

In addition, it is using digital technology and innovations to provide online information services to effectively meet the tourists' needs in the digital era. The information includes tourist attractions and on-site services and facilities such as clean restrooms under the WC OK and Tourism for All programmes.

Mr Anan said the department recently signed a memorandum of understanding with tourism-related agencies such as the Foreign Trade Department, Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities Department, Culture, Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, and Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (Public Organisation) for tourism development and promotion.

This year's plan aims to develop the department's human resources, skills and knowledge to cope with rapid changes in the tourism industry. This includes skills in foreign languages, digital technology, and coaching for team motivation, he said.

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