How to Boost Thai Tourism

How to Boost Thai Tourism

Our daddy publication Bangkok Post reported on Monday that the govt has set a goal to achieve a 10% growth in revenue within the tourism sector -- about three trillion baht (that's one three and 12 zeroes) -- next year through its campaign, Amazing Thai Tourism Year 2018. They will be introducing various promotions and packages to encourage both Thais and foreign tourists to explore new places and stay longer.

Various authorities have suggested ways to drum up more visitors next year, including reduced air fare for families and a 50% discount on package tours for those who agree to wear Thai traditional outfits during their tours. Not sure if the latter is qualified as cosplay tourism.

Anywho, since all the biggies have the big ideas covered, I would like to suggest, IMHO, other ways to attract guests to our beloved country, besides bombarding them with discounts and packages.

No more double pricing

A souvenir shop or an attraction shouldn't blatantly perpetuate a two-price policy for the same product or service. A bag of durian chips shouldn't have one lower price for Thais in Thai numerals and a higher one for everybody else in Arabic numerals. The same goes for entry fees into places. Tourists aren't stupid. They can just Google what Thai numbers look like and put two and two together to realise -- to much of their displeasure -- that they are being charged much higher than the locals simply for not being Thai.

Would you return to a place that cheated money out of you? At the risk of sounding preachy, do not do to others what you would not want done to yourself.

Promote lesser known places or activities

More people coming to Thailand will crowd up the already well-known tourists destinations even more, making them less desirable. No one wants to vie for food and services with others during their holidays. There are already independent tour providers who focus on alternative activities and places like Local Alike, Bangkok Vanguards and HiveSters -- just to name three. The govt can help promote them and create the infrastructure to facilitate tourists who wish to venture off the beaten track in Thailand.

Better English proficiency

We need more people to work in tourism, hospitality and related industries to accommodate the influx of visitors. Thais are at risk of missing out in terms of employment opportunities given a poor level of English, as business venues have options to hire English-speaking staff from other Asean countries. Just go to any rooftop restaurant at a Bangkok hotel this evening and chances are you'll meet a Filipino waiter/waitress.

Also, this may also prevent more embarrassing (but so funny) Ting-lish signs from happening again. Who's gonna know that "Forbidden island glass" means "Don't Lean on the window"?

Better waste management

More people equals more (physical) rubbish. It's that simple. Thailand isn't doing that great when it comes to waste sorting and management already and with more people it will only get worse. The Public Health Ministry said in 2014 that there was 36 tonnes of rubbish left behind by tourists in Doi Inthanon during the New Year period alone. The Department of Marine and Coastal Resources collected 216,691 pieces of garbage from the sea between 2009-2012. And I don't even want to think about the rubbish that got washed into the sea and was probably consumed by sea creatures who mistook it for food.

Not only do we need to encourage tourists to properly dispose of their rubbish but we also must make it easier for them to do so. Host a big cleaning after every major public event, perhaps? No one wants a beach littered with plastic bags and beer bottles.

No Thugxi Drivers

P' taxi drivers are among the first Thai faces the tourists will get to meet once they land. They are our unofficial ambassadors, if you will. What kind of first impression of Thailand will tourists have if they are being scammed by corrupt cabbies?

We have all heard the stories. Taxi drivers who outrageously charge their passengers or refuse to use the meter; taxi drivers who take their passengers on a detour. Perhaps cabbies who have a record of either refusing passengers, being violent or engaging in other forms of misconduct shouldn't be allowed to drive anymore?

That ought to make it safer for tourists and locals alike.

Pornchai Sereemongkonpol

Guru section Editor

Guru section Editor

Email : pornchais@bangkokpost.co.th

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