Thailand falls by more than 10 places in tourism ranking
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Thailand falls by more than 10 places in tourism ranking

Tourists travel on a Tuk Tuk taxi near Ratchaprasong intersection. (File photo: Somchai Poomlard)
Tourists travel on a Tuk Tuk taxi near Ratchaprasong intersection. (File photo: Somchai Poomlard)

Tourism operators are disappointed with the government for failing to improve the country’s position in the travel and tourism development index, after Thailand dropped to 47th place, from 36th, in the latest World Economic Forum (WEF) index.

The decrease was also larger than the decline seen in the 2021 index, when Thailand fell from 35th to 36th place, which was attributed to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Among Southeast Asian nations, three countries outperformed Thailand – Singapore, which was ranked 13th, followed by Indonesia (22nd) and Malaysia (35th). Compared to 2019, Thailand also fell by six spots and lagged the global average of 117 countries by 3.9%.

Thailand, which was classified as an upper-middle income country in this index, had the lowest score in tourist services and infrastructure at 2.18 of 7, while the overall index of infrastructure and services also secured a low average score of 3.61.

Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (Atta), said the index proved that the post-pandemic tourism rebound was dependent on existing selling points rather than improving and developing services and infrastructure.

“Since the previous government, we’ve been disappointed that the master plan for developing the tourism industry didn’t take shape. The current government might have a good initiative to lure tourists, such as the visa-free scheme, but in terms of planning for an improvement in infrastructure and services, we still haven’t see a difference from the previous government,” he said.

Mr Sisdivachr said Atta and other tourism associations under the Federation of Thai Tourism Associations will submit a white paper to Tourism Minister Sermsak Pongpanich on May 30 when he is scheduled to join Atta’s monthly meeting.

The white paper sets out threats and obstacles to the development of the tourism industry in Thailand, which requires a concrete long-term plan, along with greater effort and collaboration from all stakeholders, both in the public and private sectors.

Mr Sisdivachr said the current government has wasted too much time on visiting provinces during the cabinet meeting roadshows over the past few months, which meant the tourism minister was not able to focus on his core responsibility, which is to improve the quality of the tourism experience.

He said not every province that the cabinet visited has the potential to boost its tourism revenue.

Instead of providing support that lacks focus, the government should select provinces that offer great potential in terms of attractions and resources and should have started planning necessary infrastructure since the start by gauging possible demand in each province, such as enhancing their air and land connectivity.

He said that over the past nine months, the tourism industry has not been able to rapidly progress as the tourism minister’s position had been shuffled, resulting in a lack of continuity.

“If the current government can still not expedite the tourism development plan or solve existing obstacles, our ranking in the WEF index might again drop lower than this,” said Mr Sisdivachr.

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