Ministry enlists 'Pokemon Go' to restore confidence

Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul figures that putting rare Pokemon Go figures into tourist spots will cause visitors to forget about bombs. (Bangkok Post file photo)

The Tourism and Sports Ministry will use Pokemon Go to promote tourism and restore tourists' confidence following the string of bomb and arson attacks in seven southern provinces last Friday.

Despite the attacks, the ministry said Thais still made 1.96 million domestic trips during the long Aug 12-14 weekend, up by 7.8% from the same period last year, and generated 8.4 billion baht, up by 10.5% year-on-year.

At the same time, the country welcomed 308,000 foreign tourists during the four-day holiday, a rise of 6%, and generated 14.8 billion baht, up by 6%.

"This reflected the fact that tourists still travelled to other areas as usual during the violent incidents," said Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul.

However, the ministry will continue working to restore tourists' confidence by using Pokemon Go, the augmented reality mobile game, to invite tourists to hunt Pokemon characters in Thailand.

It will ask True Corporation to add PokeStops and Gyms to various popular and safe tourist destinations in order to attract travellers to catch rare Pokemon items and characters in these areas. This will help boost tourism activities.

True, through its subsidiary True Content and Media, won the rights to exclusively sell Pokemon items and develop a localised version of the video game with characters and themes unique to the country.

"The ministry will create an infographic map and user guide for Pokemon hunters, offering locations, tips, and do's and don'ts for tourists," Mrs Kobkarn said.

A source at the Association of Domestic Travel said the Pokemon-hunting package should be priced about 10,000 baht for three days and two nights and the target location would be in the North as it has many historical places.

Apart from Pokemon Go, the Tourism and Sports Ministry is preparing to seek cabinet approval for a long holiday during Sept 24-27 as World Tourism Day falls on Sept 27. The Tourism Authority of Thailand is preparing the holiday proposal.

Mrs Kobkarn said the ministry will also work closely with related agencies to enhance safety measures for both local people and tourists. The Tourism Department and the Tourist Police will organise workshops on safety measures for tourism operators, tourist guides and staff from next month.

"We hope foreign tourists will feel confident to come back to Thailand," Mrs Kobkarn said. "We will be a good host and do everything to show that our country remains a safe and warm destination for them."

According to the 2016 Best in Travel Poll by, Bangkok was the top holiday destination in Asia and ranked third among cities for business.