Special Report: Tourism picks up as NCPO keen to reorganize taxi services


Thailand’s tourism is starting to pick up, and recovery is likely to be evident in July 2014 and onwards. All tourism-related businesses and services in destinations throughout the country have resumed normal operations following the recent lifting of the nationwide curfew. 

President of the Tourism Council of Thailand Piyaman Tejapaibul said that, with appropriate measures to be implemented by the public sector, tourist arrivals in 2014 are expected to be 26.84 million, an increase of 1.09 percent over 26.55 million recorded in 2013.

Ms Piyaman said that the European Union’s punitive measures regarding the situation in Thailand are unlikely to affect Thailand’s tourism. Instead, warning about safety is an important factor that may help tourists make good decisions on their travel. She believed that the move of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to end the influence of “mafia” controlling airport taxis would be positive for the tourism sector and create confidence among visitors.

The NCPO has launched some measures, aimed at improving the experience of travelers and tourists visiting the Kingdom and showing its commitment in welcoming visitors. Under the measures, the taxi queues at Suvarnabhumi Airport are to be computerized in an effort to cut down on illicit control over cab operations.

Under the new computerized system, the passenger queues will be managed by a card system and drivers will have to accept the fares that they are assigned, whatever the distance. The fee for passengers taking a taxi from the queue to any destinations in Bangkok and the vicinity will remain at 50 baht on top of the meter fares, which will always start at 35 baht.

This announcement followed the clampdown on illegal airport taxi operations and the clearing out of more than 100 businesses operating along certain beachfronts in Phuket, one of Thailand’s most popular beach resort destinations.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is backing the measures, saying that they will help enhance the image of Thailand as one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, in line with the current tourism campaign, “Amazing Thailand: It Begins with the People 2014”

TAT Governor Thawatchai Arunyik said that, by tackling the taxi management issue at Thailand’s major gateways, as well as combating the encroachment of structures on beaches in order to return them to their natural state, these measures will help promote Thailand as a welcoming and safe destination and will draw more visitors to the Kingdom.

A survey shows that business for Phuket’s tourist industry remains robust, with passenger arrivals to the island having surged by 26 percent and hotel occupancy rates reaching more than 80 percent in the first quarter of 2014. Phuket has also been ranked among the top islands in Asia.