PM sets ambitious goals for tourism

PM sets ambitious goals for tourism

40m foreign visitors planned for this year

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin talks with French business leaders in Paris yesterday to discuss investment opportunities in Thailand. (Photo: Government House)
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin talks with French business leaders in Paris yesterday to discuss investment opportunities in Thailand. (Photo: Government House)

The government aims to attract more than 8.5 million travellers from Europe, Africa and the Middle East, expected to bring in an estimated 664 billion baht this year, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said.

Mr Srettha said the government has set an overall target of 2.3 trillion baht from about 40 million international travellers.

He made the remarks during a speech on Thursday at the Amazing Thailand Networking Event at the Internationale Tourismus Borse (ITB Berlin 2024), the world's largest travel and trade fair.

He said that last year, there were 28 million foreign tourists, which earned the country about 1.2 trillion baht.

"Tourism does not only contribute to the economy but also brings employment opportunities for a huge portion of the Thai population," the prime minister said.

The government plans to use all the tools at its disposal to propel Thailand's tourism industry, he said.

The government is improving the ease of travel for foreign tourists, with examples being temporary visa exemptions granted to visitors from India, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Taiwan over the past five months.

As part of such efforts, Thailand and China also signed a reciprocal visa exemption agreement, which came into effect on March 1.

The government is likewise pushing to reach visa-free travel arrangement deals with European states in the Schengen area while it is also in talks with Asean member countries to pursue a "One Visa, Free your Destination" agreement to promote joint regional tourism and further ease cross-border travel in the region, the prime minister said.

Mr Srettha further said efforts are being made to promote local cities outside of well-known destinations such as Bangkok and Chiang Mai.

"There are many interesting local cultures and hidden gems in lesser-known cities. We are working to promote these unique values and create unique experiences for tourists in these destinations," the prime minister said.

The government is also leveraging Thailand's cultural heritage or "soft power" as a selling point to promote the country's unique and meaningful events, he said.

He also referred to the Songkran water festival, which was recently recognised by Unesco as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

The government is also planning to organise World Songkran Festival activities nationwide from April 1 to 21, he said.

Mr Srettha on Friday met with French business leaders in Paris to discuss investment opportunities in Thailand.

Among those he met was Sébastien Bazin, chairman and CEO of Accor, a French multinational hospitality company that owns, manages, and franchises hotels, resorts and vacation properties and operates here in Thailand.

They discussed ways to cooperate on tourism and organising co-promotion activities to support sales and boost tourism.

The prime minister also held talks with Pascal Morand, executive president of the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, the governing body for the French fashion industry, to discuss the possibility of making Thailand a centre of fashion and design in Southeast Asia.

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