Tourism operators yesterday urged the government to set a well-defined strategy for this important industry after they started wilting under pressure from the emerging power of neighbouring nations, which are moving towards a single visa.
The CLMV scheme is an initiative of four former and current communist countries – Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. Its single visa will be launched officially next month in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City, and the next step is to allow foreign tourists to travel in their bloc.
The Association of Thai Travel Agents, Association of Domestic Travel (ADT) and Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA) called on the government to address this issue, as it has been clearly slow to respond. If it does not act right away, Thailand will lose its prominence in this industry in the region.
The three associations are involved almost 100 per cent in operating businesses in the tourism industry across the nation.
"Nowadays, the country’s tourism industry is driven by the private, not the government sector,’’ they said.
The industry has shown little progress in the past five years because of threats from politics to natural disasters.
They government has to give more importance to the tourism industry with measures to promote it like other industries such as automobilew and property.
Also, the Tourism Ministry should play a key role in charting a course for the industry. However, the 10-year-old ministry is still not productive because its personnel, including the minister, do not have enough knowledge to guide this business.
Suthiphong Pheunphiphop, TTAA’s president, said he wants ‘‘the right man" heading the ministry. At present, everyone from the minister to the staff at the ministry still lacks an understanding of the job they do.
‘‘Maybe, business operators in this sector do not financially support the political parties of the government coalition,’’ one wondered.
Yutthachai Soonthronrattanavate, ADT’s president, said ‘‘corruption’’ was a big barrier to the development of the tourism industry. Suvarnabhumi Airport was an example. In the early days, it was ranked as a world-class airport with perfect facilities, but today it is riddled with troubles, especially traffic congestion.
The government should have two airports in Bangkok to improve traffic flow. Especially, Don Mueang Airport should be re-used to its full capacity to accommodate passengers.