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Clear tourism goals needed to keep country in top 10: expert

TO MAINTAIN Thailand's status as a global top-10 destination, the new government has been urged to set clear long-term targets while solving internal problems.

Piyaman Tejabaipul, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT), said this was a very good time to reform national tourism strategies as there is a new government led by Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha. The top priory should be putting in place with clear goals, especially for the long term.

She said many past governments had included tourism in the national agenda, but their goals were unclear, even for the short term. The TCT expects that Prayuth's government of will have more effective strategies thanks to his diligence and decisiveness.

One of reasons for past failures was government bodies not working in parallel. Some ministries ran policies only for themselves without considering the needs of others.

The government needs to ensure security and safety for visitors travelling in the country. Furthermore, easing all internal problems is urgently needed.

The government may learn from the successes of France or Spain, which have remained top tourist destinations for many years.

Both countries have set clear targets for every stakeholder.

According to a study by Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the number of tourist arrivals to Thailand could grow from about 26 million currently to 40 million within the next four years if the government is able to carry out the right strategies. If that number were achieved, tourism could represent 15 per cent of gross domestic product.

According to a report by the Madrid-based United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), arrivals in 2013 helped pushed Thailand into the list of the world's top 10 tourism destinations in terms of both visitor numbers and visitor expenditure.

"Thailand moved up two positions in the ranking by international receipts to seventh, while it entered the top 10 by arrivals in 10th position, in a bumper 2013 when international arrivals were up by 19 per cent to 27 million and receipts by 23 per cent to US$42 billion," the report said.

It is the first time Thailand has entered the top 10 in terms of arrivals.

It was ranked No 11 in 2012, when the number of tourists totalled 22.4 million.

In terms of tourism receipts in 2013, Thailand was ranked No 7, up from No 9 in 2012, as revenue increased from $33.8 billion to $42.1 billion (Bt1.35 trillion).

Thawatchai Arunyik, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said the achievement was a tribute to the hard work of the entire industry, and all those who work in it.

"We can now clearly demonstrate the importance of travel and tourism to the national economy, and emphasise the need to ensure that it makes a quick recovery in the second half of 2014," he said.

TAT will continue many important measures being taken to help regain visitor confidence and to keep Thailand a popular destination, he added.


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