PM urged to tackle overtourism

Tourists at the Suvarnabhumi airport passenger terminal on April 11 during this year's Songkran festival. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Tourists at the Suvarnabhumi airport passenger terminal on April 11 during this year's Songkran festival. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

With opposition to overtourism rising in many countries, Thai tourism operators are urging the prime minister to seriously consider the nation's carrying capacity, while some have suggested collecting a 300-baht tourism tax in a bid to solve the problem.

Adith Chairattananon of the Federation of Thai Tourism Associations (Fetta) said a plan that the federation will present to the government will include solutions to prevent overtourism - too many tourists in one place - which was seen in Thailand before the pandemic.

Similar efforts were seen in other countries last week as Amsterdam's local government announced it was banning the construction of new hotels, while residents of Spain's Canary Islands called for limiting tourism arrivals as they have been hit by rising housing costs.

"With a projection of 40 million tourists, major destinations like Phuket, Samui and Pattaya are on the verge of facing overtourism," said Mr Adith.

He said that during the high season, Phuket had already witnessed traffic congestion and water shortages, while its international airport ran out of available slots for airlines.

Mr Adith said one of the key strategies is to attract tourists from major hubs to the country's secondary cities that offer plenty of potential attractions and space to accommodate a significant flow of tourists.

There should be incentives for airlines who are keen to operate direct flights to provincial airports such as U-tapao, and those serving Khon Kaen and Krabi. This would reduce congestion among gateways such as Phuket Airport or Suvarnabhumi Airport, and would also help create regional business opportunities.

The related authorities should accelerate connectivity between airports to inner cities too. For instance, the lack of public bus access from U-tapao Airport to Pattaya City discourages new airlines from operating flights as the current situation is not convenient for passengers.

Surawat Akaraworamat, vice-president of the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT), said the government should reconsider collecting the 300-baht tourism fee to help fund tourism development as the plan and all related preparations have now been finalised.

He said the essential funds would benefit infrastructure development in second-tier provinces to attract tourists away from congested locations.

He said a tax of only 300 baht would not discourage foreign tourists from visiting Thailand as some parties have raised as a concern, since the fee is inexpensive compared to some nations such as Bhutan which collects a tourist tax of over US$100 per night.

Many countries today are collecting taxes from tourists, either through flight tickets or hotel stays. Thailand should start a trial phase of tourism tax collection through a mobile application or kiosks, he said.

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  • ban: to say officially that people must not do, sell or use something - การประกาศห้าม
  • congestion: a situation in which a place is crowded with people or vehicles - แน่นขนัดไปด้วยรถหรือคน
  • connectivity (noun): how well connected things are, how easily you can get from one place to another - ภาวะเชื่อมต่อ, สภาพเชื่อมโยง
  • discourage: to make someone feel like something should not be done - ทำให้ไม่อยาก (ทำสิ่งใดสิ่งหนึ่ง)
  • federation: a large organisation made up of several smaller organisations or groups that share similar aims - สหพันธ์, สมาคม
  • gateway (noun): a place through which you can go to reach another larger place - ทางเข้าออก,ทางผ่าน
  • inexpensive: not expensive - มีราคาถูก
  • infrastructure: a set of systems within a place or organisation that affect how well it operates, e.g., the telephone and transport systems in a country or the system of train tracks that a railway uses - สาธารณูปโภค
  • kiosk (noun): a small shop/store, open at the front, where newspapers, drinks, etc. are sold. In some countries kiosks also sell food and things used in the home. - แผงขายหนังสือพิมพ์,ตู้โทรศัพท์,ปะรำ,ศาลาพักร้อน,เวทีดนตรี
  • on the verge of: to be about to do something very soon; to almost be ready to do something very near to the moment when somebody does something or something happens - เกือบจะทำบางสิ่ง
  • pandemic: a disease that affects almost everyone in a very large area - โรคที่มีการแพร่กระจายหรือระบาดไปทั่ว
  • phase: a particular period of time during the development of something - ตอน, ขั้นตอน, ช่วง, ระยะ
  • projection: a calculation or guess about the future based on information that you have - การคาดคะเน
  • resident: a person who lives in a particular area - ผู้ที่อาศัยในท้องที่
  • secondary: not the most important -
  • slot: a time for somebody/something in a list, a programme of events or a series of broadcasts - เวลาซึ่งกำหนดในตาราง
  • strategy: a plan or method for achieving something, especially over a long period of time - ยุทธวิธี, แผนการ  
  • tackle: to make an organised and determined attempt to deal with something - จัดการ, รับมือ
  • urge: to advise someone very strongly about what action or attitude they should take - ผลักดัน, กระตุ้น
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