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Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra presided over a 2/2013 workshop for tourism

On October 1st Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra presided over a 2/2013 workshop to mobilize a policy on 2.2-trillion-Baht revenue generation through tourism within the year 2015

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittirat Na Ranong, Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Yukol Limlaemtong, Tourism and Sports Minister Somsak Pureesrisak, Information and Communication Technology Minister Anudith Nakornthap, and other concerned officials also participated in the workshop.

A Government Spokesperson announced that Suwat Sidthilaw, Tourism and Sports Permanent Secretary, reported that during January-September 2013, there were 19,672,898 incoming foreign tourists that represents an increase of 23.16% comparing to the same period of previous year.

Based on these statistics, it is expected that the number of tourists visiting Thailand will go beyond 26 million people by the end of this year. The top three countries Thailand is attracting tourists from are China (3,745,213 people, an increase of 92.93%), Malaysia (2,149,528 people, an increase of 19.92%), and Japan (1,151,862 people, an increase of 15.42%). During the first 9 months of this year, revenue generated from tourism industry has reached 863,121 million Baht, an increase of 23.02% from the same period of previous year.

Discussions took place about various schemes to sustainably mobilize tourism sector, such as visa extension for long-stay tourists, preparation of tourism calendar, promotion of the MICE market, transportation connectivity, and endorsement of foreign film productions to use locations in Thailand.

Even though the number of tourists has increased overall the areas they visit has not, Provinces that have received more than 500,000 foreign tourists are Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Ayutthaya, Bangkok, Samut Prakarn, Chonburi, Prachuab Kirikhan, Surat Thani, Phang Nga, Phuket, Krabi, and Songkhla.

PM Yingluck also made suggestion to separate tourists into 2 segments, mass and niche markets due to their different demands. Services must be developed especially for the niche market, which includes high-end tourists, golfers, honeymooners, married couples, and medical tourists to meet their demands and make them stay longer as well as spend more in the country. She also called for concerned agencies to attain to certain services standards, for example, some hotels claims themselves 5-star hotels to high-end tourists, but in fact they are only 3-star and this kind of misrepresentation gives a bad name to the Thai tourism industry.

Suggestions from PM Yingluck also include looking for foreign investment for schemes such as theme parks in order to promote more manmade tourist attractions in Thailand for which PM Yingluck assigned Ministry of Finance to conduct further study on tax and investment privileges. On another dimension, the capacity of Thailand’s filming industry, as well as its post-production, and one-stop services must also be enhanced in order to keep the country competitive.

However, challenges in tourism must also be addressed, particularly over-crowdedness of both Suvarnabhumi and Phuket international airports. PM Yingluck assigned Ministry of Transport to be responsible for the matter. As a solution to the problem, more check-in counters are expected to be opened outside of Phuket international airport.

Confidence of foreign tourists on public services, particularly public transportation, must be boosted. With related to the matter, PM Yingluck ordered an investigation on airport taxi concession, and how it is operated. Safety of tourists was also discussed at the workshop.

PM Yingluck called for the integration of community products, and local cultures into tourism, and assigned the Community Development Department to collaborate with Thailand Creative and Design Center (TCDC) to develop OTOP products in line with the market’s demand. She also encouraged local youths to present and promote their hometowns via social media.

At the workshop, it is expected that national revenue generated from tourism industry will go beyond 2.2 trillion Baht within the year 2015 since tourists from new potential markets such as Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East, still continue to travel to Thailand.

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