PM wants quality rather than quantity in tourism growth
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday expressed concern to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports that the country's service quality may not be able to keep pace with the growing tourism industry, resulting in loss of competitiveness.Clearly, the number of foreign tourists has grown continuously in the past years. The facilities the country has, especially Suvarnabhumi Airport, would not be enough to welcome them, she said. She suggested that the country should control the number of foreign tourists coming here. And at the same time, the Kingdom should keep more focus on upscale tourists to increase tourism revenue. The country should look for ways to increase the number of days tourists spend as well as spending by foreign tourists.
Last year, 22.4 million people came here. This year, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) projects that the number will increase 11 per cent to 24.5 million.
Yingluck was speaking at a meeting of permanent secretaries hosted yesterday by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports. It was the third meeting of the year, with different ministries taking turns to host the meeting. Its aim is to listen to each others' opinions, new ideas and discuss barriers.
Suwat Sidthilaw, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, said the PM also advised that the country should look for new markets, especially via economic borders with countries involving land transport. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should play a supporting role in creating tourism packages for different destinations by using Thailand as a base. Also, the TAT should play an increasing role in investing in new projects to attract tourists.
She assigned Thai Airways International, the national carrier, to study the possibility of opening up more secondary cities by promoting low-cost flights to reach there.
Suwat said at present the country is continuing its plan to attract more upper-end foreign tourists. The number of foreign tourist inflow should be kept at 25 million to 26 million per year. The number of high-end foreign tourists should be about 30 per cent and mass tourists about 70 per cent. Currently, the ratio is 20:80.
Yesterday, he said the ministry had also asked her for 450 new recruitments for the ministry to pursue projects. However, though the Office of the Civil Service Commission had accepted it in principle, only a part of the ministry's requirement would be met.
He also asked the government to empower provincial offices of the ministry to make decisions on using their budget for activities. Currently, each province is combined as a cluster and has to see authorisation for its allowance from the head province, resulting in inconvenience.