PM set July 2 deadline for agencies to detail plans to grow Thai tourism to 2 trillion baht

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Government agencies on Monday were expected to detail how they plan to work together to boost Thailand’s tourism industry to 30 million visitors and 2 trillion baht in revenue by 2015.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra gave agencies marching orders to set their strategy at the mobile cabinet meeting in Pattaya June 17. The government and travel-sector organizations have been working since late March to formulate a strategy to combat Thailand’s flagging competitiveness in the tourism sector.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra arrives at the Royal Cliff with Tourism and Sports Minister Sukumol Kunplome. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra arrives at the Royal Cliff with Tourism and Sports Minister Sukumol Kunplome.

At the cabinet session, Yingluck said she would like to see integration of government efforts to devise a “unique feature” of Thailand tourism, increase tourist safety and increase cultural and environmental tourism.

Tourism Authority of Thailand officials suggested five strategies to meet the 2 trillion baht goal: Create an outstanding and unique feature for the country, promote Thailand overseas, build the domestic-travel market, participate in the World Mega Event and increase business meetings and convention tourism.

The Ministry of Tourism and Sports has crafted seven strategies, which mirror some of TAT’s suggestions and add ideas such as boosting Thailand’s use in the movie industry; focusing the on watersports, health and beauty markets; and restoring historical tourist destination sites.

The cabinet meeting also focused urgent issues, such as tourism safety, the revision of rules and regulations in immigration procedures, and the development of transportation routes.

Yingluck directed agencies to set up committees to be responsible for pushing for the implementation strategies report their plans to the Prime Minister’s Office July 2.  At press time, the plans had not yet been made public.

Yingluck’s focus on tourism increased in March after a report by the Federation of Thai Tourism Associations highlighted the declining competitiveness of Thai tourism against China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Middle Eastern countries.

Thailand’s ranking in the World Economic Forum’s report last year dropped to 41st, behind Singapore (32nd), Malaysia (35th) and China (39th).

Overall tourist numbers are still increasing, however. At the cabinet session, tourism ministry officials said the country attracted 5.7 million visitors in the first three months of 2012, a 7.1 percent increase. Tourism revenue of 258.1 billion was up 9.7 percent. Projections for the year are more than 21 million tourists.