Tourism operators must think carefully before expanding in the current climate of global economic weakness, warns Deputy Prime Minister MR Pridiyathorn Devakula. The global downturn, which has caused commodity and farm prices to fall sharply over the past year, is likely to persist for another two or three years, he said yesterday. The situation is unfavorable for many businesses, including tourism, to grow. His remarks were in response to tourism operators asking the government to provide them low-interest loans.
“Low-interest loans are not the point. The problem is that Thai business people have built too many hotels, causing an oversupply and price wars. The government can’t intervene in the market,” MR Pridiyathorn told a seminar entitled “Moving Forward Thailand … Moving Forward Tourism”.
To deal with heavy competition in tourism, Thailand should use the advantage of its tourism facilities to establish itself as a hub for Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, he said.
In his view, tourism operators and the Tourism and Sports Ministry should seriously promote Thailand as a tourist destination linked to neighboring countries to capture quality tourists such as Europeans and Japanese.
Tourism is a key sector for the flagging Thai economy this year. The Tourism Department estimates that the country will receive 29 million tourists by year end, with expected foreign exchange income of 1.4 trillion baht.
In 2014, 24.7 million foreigners visited Thailand and spent 1.13 trillion baht.
MR Pridiyathorn suggested that tourism operators and related groups find new selling points apart from sea, sand and sun perhaps Thai culture and history to boost visitor numbers.
Many tourists, especially Japanese and Europeans, are seeking new and challenging travel experiences but still prefer comfortable and convenient destinations to relax before going home.
Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said a scheme to link destinations in Thailand and nearby countries would be included in her ministry’s tourism development plan for 2015-17.
The plan will feature five tourism clusters: Lanna (Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Lampang, Phayao); the southern Northeast region (Nakhon Ratchasima, Buri Ram, Surin, Si Sa Ket, Ubon Ratchathani); the East Coast (Chop Buri, Rayong, Trat, Chanthaburi); the West Coast (Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon, Ranong); and the Andaman (Phuket, Phangnga, Krabi, Satun, Trang).
Each cluster aims to boost tourism and generate revenue for local communities in line with government policy.
MR Pridiyathorn said Thailand should have quality information kiosks in all the major tourist destinations, with clean toilets available for tourists.
Address complaints of hotel oversupply in resort destinations, he said hoteliers should solve the problem themselves, but he vowed to crack down on illegal hotels.
Source : The traveller Vol 3, No.7 From July27 To August 2, 2015