Tourism drive hits highest gear

Tourism drive hits highest gear

Raft of events eyed for record 2025

The government has set itself an ambitious goal to make 2025 "the biggest year for tourism" to date as it plans to host a raft of engaging cultural events, concerts, festivals as well as an international motor racing series throughout the year.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin made the remarks as he presided over the opening of a brainstorming session under the government's "Ignite Thailand: Tourism" strategy at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center on Friday.

He previously announced his vision for Thailand's future, dubbed "Ignite Thailand".

The plan seeks to establish the country as a world-class hub for eight sectors, namely tourism, medical and wellness tourism, food and agriculture, aviation, logistics, future mobility, digital economy, as well as finance.

"During my overseas trips, I announced that next year would be the biggest year for tourism in Thailand," the prime minister said.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin says the government has set itself an ambitious goal to make 2025 "the biggest year for tourism as he presided over the opening of a brainstorming session at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center on Friday. (Photo: Ministry of Tourism and Sports)

"The government has attached [great] importance to several policies. Tourism is one of the flagship policies,'' said Mr Srettha, who also serves as finance minister.

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

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.

"The visa-free travel deal with the Schengen states is not just a dream," the prime minister said.

Mr Srettha also stressed the need to improve infrastructure and upgrade immigration control systems to prepare for international visitors.

"We have to make sure they are impressed from the moment they set foot in Thailand until they leave the country," he said.

The prime minister also said that during his recent trip to Germany and France, he met with Formula E executives who expressed interest in Thailand as a potential site for hosting a Formula E electric-car racing championship series.

He said Formula E executives would come to explore an area in Chiang Mai next week to study the feasibility of holding a Formula E competition in Thailand for the first time. That would help promote Thailand as a regional tourism hub, he said.

Formula E is officially known as the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship. It was launched in Beijing in 2014 and later earned the FIA world championship status.

The premier previously said Thailand was making a shift towards using EV cars, with them accounting for 40% of total car orders made since the end of last year.

Mr Srettha said the government is making the most of Thailand's cultural heritage or "soft power".

"This brainstorming session will not end up like a firework fizzling out. It should be used as a platform for a further push for tourism alongside infrastructure development. Next year will be the biggest year for tourism, but we will have to begin later this year. But first, we also need six months to prepare," Mr Srettha said.

"Thailand will host cultural and sports events, concerts, Formula E, world food festivals and much more," he said.

Mr Srettha also said the government is working with retail business operators from Central Group, Siam Piwat, the Mall Group and King Power to promote products made by local communities under an initiative called "Thainess Station: Thai Products Unify Thai Communities".

Thai handicrafts, including pha khao ma or Thai loincloth, basketry from kra jood or bulrush and indigo-dyed fabric are now being sold at shopping malls like IconSiam and King Power's retail outlets at all Thai international airports until April 30.

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