Association calls for urgent infrastructure development

Association calls for urgent infrastructure development

Foreign tourists explore the Yaowarat market in Chinatown, Bangkok on March 17, 2024. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)
Foreign tourists explore the Yaowarat market in Chinatown, Bangkok on March 17, 2024. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

The Federation of Thai Tourism Associations (Fetta) is preparing to submit a white paper to the government requesting urgent supply development as a surge in demand burdens existing infrastructure.

Adith Chairattananon, secretary-general of Fetta, said the government has focused on pushing demand through visa exemptions and increasing spending on promotion, but has paid scant attention to the supply side.

"Tourism operators surely benefit from soaring demand, but if we ignore development of supply our industry will not be sustainable," said Mr Adith.

The major proposals include a concrete plan to increase the carrying capacity of each province, particularly related to infrastructure such as roads, water supply and waste management.

He said before the pandemic, major cities already noticed overtourism, with nearly 40 million foreign arrivals in 2019, affecting the well-being of locals and the environment.

One strategy is to attract tourists to different locations, while the government should invest in transport to improve connectivity, said Mr Adith.

For instance, the authorities should route more international flights to regional airports, such as Udon Thani, Khon Kaen and Chiang Rai, which still have airport capacity, he said.

The government should also organise public bus services in cities, which is easier than waiting for railway development, noted the association.

A long-term goal for the state should be incentives for bus tours to shift to electric vehicles, according to the paper.

Apart from measuring tourist numbers and revenue, the Tourism and Sports Ministry should use other indicators, weighing well-being, happiness, community satisfaction and environmental friendliness, said Mr Adith.

Fetta comprises more than 30 members, including regional tourism associations, seven of which joined last year.

He said the regional bodies will raise several key issues for discussion, including logistical problems experienced by most provinces.

Members at Fetta's meeting this week worked to draft the white paper, which will be finalised in a month, said Mr Adith.

The group hopes to submit the paper to the government before the fiscal 2024 budget is disbursed, he said.

Thanet Supornsahasrungsi, president of the Association of Chonburi Tourism Federation, said it proposed the government increase annual leave days for Thai companies to the same level as firms in Europe.

This will help distribute more trips during the year, not only on holidays or weekends, making Thailand less reliant on international arrivals, said Mr Thanet.

Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of the Thai Hotels Association, said the government should enforce established rules and regulations for various accommodations under the law to ensure fair competition and sustainable standards.

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