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TAT compiling action plan to make 2015 a better year

The Tourism Authority of Thailand is preparing its 2015 Marketing Action Plan to deal with another challenging year, aiming for 28 million international tourists and 132 million domestic trips generating income of Bt2.2 trillion.

TAT's top management and 27 directors from overseas and 35 from domestic offices are working to complete a new strategy and action plan this week.

TAT governor Thawatchai Arunyik said yesterday that the targets for next year were up from the revised targets of 25 million to 26.2 million arrivals and Bt2 trillion in revenue this year.

A national campaign is set to launch next Monday, apparently with the long-running themes of "Amazing Thailand" and "Thainess".

The authority is also seeking plans to increase the number of "quality" (big-spending) tourists and to shorten the low season.

Some of the plans being discussed involve medical tourists from the Middle East, more youth and family travellers from Asia, and wealthy tourists from India and China. Thai boxing may be promoted on a bigger scale and given more of an international presence.

Suwat Sidthilaw, permanent secretary of the Tourism Ministry and now acting minister, said tourism was still one of the key industries injecting a lot of money into the economy. However, the industry will likely face another tough time as many problems remain unsolved, such as the poor logistics and transport system, tourist scams, deteriorating attractions and a complicated bureaucratic system.

"All employees of TAT need to adjust working norms and look into new directions by crossing and integrating with in-house and outside parties," he said.

The opening of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) in a year may reflect back on the Thai tourism industry, especially the inflow of workers, so the industry needs to move on service and quality, he added.

Suparerk Soorangura, president of the Thai Travel Agents Association, said many tourists wanted to come to Thailand, but the country is now putting some limitations to itself, such as the political change that still is not comfortable for tourists.

France, for instance, can attract nearly 100 million tourists a year because of excellent management. The agency should focus on quality tourists rather than quantity.

"The TTAA urges the junta to give confidence to foreign tourists, because a lot of them, especially from Europe and the US, are still uncomfortable about visiting the country while it is under martial law," he said.

However, Thailand should gain a lot more visitors from Asean countries thanks to the AEC's formation and the increase in low-cost air services, he said.

Surapong Techaruvichit, president of the Thai Hotels Association, said tourism should rebound from its latest crisis once a new government is established.

The opening of the AEC is expected to bring benefits as tourists from neighbouring countries would travel to Thailand. And investors also can expand overseas more easily.


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