Thailand one of the top 10
S'pore, KL more competitive: TTCI
Thailand was ranked ninth in the Asia-Pacific region and 43rd globally on the 2013 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI), a study released last week by the World Economic Forum showed.
In the Asia-Pacific, Singapore held the top rank, while Malaysia took the 8th place. Only three nations in Southeast Asia - Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand - made it to the top 10 countries in the region. Indonesia held the 12th place, followed by Brunei, Vietnam at 16th, the Philippines 17th and Cambodia holding the 20th place.
Mingkwan Metmowlee, president of the Association of Thai Tourism Marketing, said this result was not surprising, especially in terms of Singapore and Malaysia beating Thailand because these two countries had achieved a world-class standard in the service industry, which attracted foreign tourists.
"Look at the safety issue, for instance. In Singapore, foreign tourists can stroll around at night without any fear. This is a result of its strong law-enforcement methods. In comparison, our country still lags far behind."
She added that Thai tourism was still plagued by problems and it was time for all parties, especially the government, to help solve the problem and boost the country's image in the world tourism map. The TTCI aims to measure the factors and policies that make it easy to develop the travel and tourism sector in different nations, in cooperation with companies and associations worldwide.
Based on three broad categories of variables that facilitate or drive travel and tourism competitiveness, they are summarised into three sub-indexes which include the regulatory framework, the business environment and infrastructure, and human, cultural and natural resources.
In global competitiveness, Singapore was placed 10th, as in 2011. The report found the island nation is among the safest economies of all assessed and has an excellent transport infrastructure. However, its weakness is price competitiveness, especially as rising hotel prices and taxes work against its key performance.
Worldwide, Thailand was ranked 43, down from 41 in 2011, which was attributed to natural disasters and political unrest. The findings showed the Kingdom's competitive edge over rivals is its rich natural resources and the population's friendly attitude toward tourists.
However, Mingkwan said that using the "Land of Smiles" moniker as a key strategy to attract tourists did not seem to be enough, because though people welcome foreign guests with a friendly smile, they do not understand the true concept of service. For instance, many of them lacked English-language skills to truly understand what the guest wants.
The report added that Thailand had other weaknesses as well, such as the lack of protection of property rights and a difficulty in setting up businesses. Also, environmental sustainability is an issue of concern.
Malaysia, meanwhile, has risen one place from 35 in 2011. This rise was attributed to its rich natural and cultural resources, price competitiveness with comparatively low fuel prices, low taxes and airport charges, and other policies supporting the tourism industry.