DASTA readies hoteliers for AEC

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The Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration offered help to Pattaya hotel operators trying to get ready for the ASEAN Economic Community by offering advice on eco-friendly practices, business and free trade.

DASTA Deputy Director Damrong Saengkaweelert and Pattaya project chief Thaweepong Wichaidit hosted the Jan. 28 seminar at the Amari Orchid Resort & Tower entitled “AEC: Are Pattaya Tourism Businesses Ready?”

Officials from the Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration offer advice to Pattaya-area hotel operators on eco-friendly practices, business and free trade.Officials from the Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration offer advice to Pattaya-area hotel operators on eco-friendly practices, business and free trade.

The workshop featured a panel discussion on whether hotel operators can handle the new competition from the unified market set to begin in December. Participating were Udom Seemahachota, advisor to the Thai Hotels Association and the operator of the Baan Talay Dao Resort in Hua Hin; Marisa Sukosol, head of the THA’s environment section and a committee member of the Green Leaf Foundation; and Prawet Aknimat, head of the Dusit Thani Pattaya Hotel’s environmental project.

The seminar also included lectures on “Delving into AEC for Pattaya Tourism Businesses” by scholars and experts on the AEC; and “The Impacts of the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement on Tourism Business: by Pattaya Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome.

Thaweepong said DASTA is working to help the Pattaya market offset the impact of the decline in Russian tourists due to the slumping ruble by opening new tourist attractions to draw Indian and Chinese visitors, such as the 100-year-old market in Ban Chak Ngaw and ecotourism in Takientia.

Itthiphol said the projects that are the answers to sustainable development are those being carrying out by the government with the cooperation of the private sector, such as beach-chair reorganization, motorcycle taxi registration, and major construction projects like the Sukhumvit Road bypass tunnel.

Pattaya is trying to revive the visitor economy by promoting the “365 Days Pattaya Tourism for Thais” campaign, offering special room rates to attract more Thai tourists to Pattaya.

Kasemsan Werakul, a scholar on the AEC, said the unified market will generate a tremendous amount of revenue for Thailand, but at the same time will require Thai firms to develop their capacity and management to make tourists want to return.

Pattaya has not died, but it is a bit too old, he said. It is true that a tourist town must have everything, but Pattaya should not over-create its brand and connect to other tourist destinations as well, he added.

Another important thing that Pattaya should be mindful of 28 million Thai people are on social networks, Kasemsan added. If the Pattaya brand is not strong enough or if some bad things happen to tourists, visitors can post their bad experiences online, which is certainly dangerous for Pattaya tourism because news spreads quickly and widely.