February 9, 2024
BANGKOK – Thailand’s tourism businesses must redesign their products and services so that the country can directly attract new tourists while also encouraging visitors to return and extend their stay in Thailand, Chamnan Srisawat, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, said today (February 8).
He added that rather than promote each destination separately, it would be better to combine nearby destinations in a single journey thus maximising the tourist experience.
While praising the government’s visa-free policies, he pointed out that it would be more advantageous to provide special visas to allow unique experiences, such as a six-month visa for foreign tourists to learn Muay Thai in the kingdom.
His suggestions are part of the council’s strategic framework for responding to the government’s ambitious target revenue of 3.5 trillion baht from the tourism industry this year.
Speaking at a media briefing on Thursday, he pointed out that while the government’s revenue target appears optimistically high, it should not be impossible to achieve due to the country’s wide-ranging resources, which can meet the diverse demands of tourists. In addition, Thailand is very distinctive and appealing due to its legendary hospitality and the friendliness of its people.
However, while there is plenty of demand for travel to Thailand, the country must do more to develop and upgrade the services offered by its entrepreneurs, as well as technology, innovations and its workforce.
“Thailand needs to attract 35-40 million tourists from around the world to reach 3.5 trillion baht this year. To attract those numbers, we need stronger entrepreneurs to serve the tourists, as well as concrete government policies to increase inbound traffic,” Chamnan explained.
He then proposed three strategic frameworks to guide the private sector’s collaboration with government and related agencies, noting that these strategies were developed after he and the council met with Thai and international travel agents worldwide.
All three strategies involve connecting demand and supply to the right targets, establishing a tourism think tank to improve entrepreneur efficiency and assist the government in developing policies, and establishing a “Tourism Clinic” to increase competitiveness on the supply side.
He explained that rather than categorising foreigners based on their countries, it is more appropriate to consider them based on their lifestyle, preferences or hobbies. This will not only allow them to enjoy their stay in Thailand, but will also prevent over-tourism in some areas while introducing new attractions to them.
Meanwhile, with the help of think tanks and tourism clinics, entrepreneurs, particularly small and vulnerable ones, can improve their efficiency in order to compete with larger businesses and meet global sustainability trends.
“While appropriate government policies are required to specify the overall directions, supportive measures such as funding, marketing, and training are needed to strengthen entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is one of the tourism products. If the product thrives, the tourism industry will last,” he said.
His recommendation came as the council released the Thailand Tourism Confidence Index for the fourth quarter of last year, which showed that the country’s tourism sector had recovered significantly, with over 28 million tourists visiting the kingdom.
The number helped boost Thai entrepreneurs’ confidence from 69 in the third quarter to 77, reflecting the tourism industry’s positive growth. The optimistic sentiment will persist in 2024, with more tourists flocking in thanks to the government’s visa-free programme.
Still, the majority of respondents wanted the government to launch promotional programmes to encourage Thais to travel nationwide. Aside from reviving the “We Travel Together” project, the council suggested launching bus tours to facilitate road trips across the country.