Thailand urged to explore new tourism routes
BANGKOK, Thailand - Thailand is being urged to explore new tourism routes to connect with neighbouring countries to respond to rising demand when more tourists visit the Asean region.
The Association of Thai Tourism Marketing (ATTM) urged the government to support small tourism-related associations to help them promote tourism in a sustainable manner, said president Mingkwan Metmowlee.
To celebrate its first anniversary, the association encouraged member operators to survey new tourist destinations in a bid to develop new products and services.
One new destination is Kaeng Krachan Dam, which is in the same area of Phetchaburi province as Khao Phanoen Thung mountain and Thai Song Dam village.
ATTM members also surveyed Chiang Rai's Chiang Khong district, which borders Laos, and Kanchanaburi's Sangkhla Buri district, adjacent to Myanmar.
This year, members will start surveying the R3A (Thailand-Laos-Kunming in China) and R3B (Thailand-Myanmar-Da Lau in China) routes.
At the general ATTM assembly yesterday, Kriengsak Charoenwongsak, a senior fellow at Harvard University's Center for Business and Government, said the government's 2.2-trillion-baht tourism revenue target in 2015 should have strong support from the government's planned infrastructure projects.
He suggested the government invest in infrastructure projects with populist budgets, annual budgets, more taxes or joint funding with the private sector instead of trying to utilise bank borrowing.
"The huge investments will not have an immediate and direct effect on tourism because most of the money will go to railways and roads. However, the new transport network will finally benefit tourism and encourage tourists to travel more," Mr Kriengsak said.
Tour operators should link tourism routes with high-speed train stations in the near future.
In Thailand, favouritism still undermines efficiency in many organisations. An overseas deployment is a kind of reward for favoured people rather than a place for quality personnel, he said.
Many tourism-related organisations lack policy flexibility and serious, clear strategies, said Mr Kriengsak.
Although the government is attempting to attract premium tourists to drive revenue, most foreign visitors to Thailand could still be categorised in the mass market.
"All tour operators and related businesses should join forces to pressure the government to work on not only the number of visitors but also other factors that will genuinely be useful for the overall tourism industry," Mr Kriengsak said.