Private, public sectors keen on new app to promote tourism
Some 49 private and public institutes have entered into an agreement to establish a new social enterprise called Thai Digital Platform Co to provide integrated tourism information about Thailand.
Under the plan, a new mobile application, TagThai, pronounced similar to takthai (greetings) in Thai, will be introduced in April.
The service is scheduled to be fully operational in June, said Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat. The app will feature information in Thai, English and Chinese.
The establishment of the enterprise is part of the Digital Tourism Platform initiative, a cooperation between the public and private sectors to support the reform and sustainable development of tourism, said Mr Weerasak.
The platform is set to provide information on tourism and related services such as hotels, restaurants, tour operators and small and medium-size enterprises.
Kalin Sarasin, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, who chaired the working group for the project, said the digital platform aims to bring together tourism products and services, including essential information, within a single application.
This could enhance the overall tourism industry, improving experiences for tourists, and increasing the competitiveness of small operators. The main goal is more sustainable tourism and reducing social inequalities, Mr Kalin said.
He said 30 private institutions and companies that are members of the working group have agreed to set up the social enterprise and introduce a new mobile app in collaboration with 19 state agencies, which will help make information on the app more comprehensive.
Thailand welcomed more than 38 million tourist arrivals last year, up from 35 million in 2017. Arrivals from several countries reached 1 million for the first time here, namely the US, Singapore and Vietnam, while 10 million Chinese tourists arrived in Bangkok late last year.
Revenue from tourism, both from Thais and foreigners, hit more than 3 trillion baht last year, accounting for 19.5% to GDP, said Mr Weerasak.
The minister is confident the extension of the waiver on the 2,000-baht fee for visas-on-arrival for visitors from 20 countries including China until the end of April will boost tourism. The previous schedule called for the fee waiver to end on Jan 13.
In a related development, Kasikorn Research Center forecast the number of foreign arrivals this year at 39 to 39.8 million, growth of 2.1-4.1% from last year.
Strong growth is predicted in markets such as Asean, South Korea, India and Japan.
It estimated tourism revenue from the international market would expand in a range of 6.9-8.9% for some 2.16 to 2.2 trillion baht.
Factors contributing to the growth this year include the extension of the waiver on the visa-on-arrival fee and a more favourable political climate. The upcoming general election plus Thailand chairing the Asean Summit this year are positive factors offering chances for operators to promote tourism, especially in the Asean market, which accounts for 27% of foreign arrivals each year.
However, the research house predicts Thailand's tourism could encounter several challenges that will disrupt growth, namely an economic slowdown in many countries that may trim spending among travellers.