The Thai Government has placed tourist safety and security on a high national agenda, especially during the next few years, as the Kingdom is moving towards the implementation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), according to Tourism Authority of Thailand’s (TAT) Governor, Suraphon Svetasreni.
Delivering closing remarks at the Thailand Tourism Marketing Safety and Security Forum on 14 November 2013, at the Ramada Plaza Bangkok Menam Riverside, Suraphon expressed his sincere appreciation to Thai stakeholders in organizing the two-part discussion which led to findings in the form of a written declaration submitted to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports (MoTS).
TAT Governor Suraphon Svetasreni addresses the Thailand Tourism Marketing Safety and Security Forum in Bangkok.
“This move by the private sector is very important. One word I have heard during the forum is that we need to create a safety culture,” said Suraphon. “On the public sector front, we are already providing tourist assistance through the TAT Call Centre 1672, Tourist Police Hotline 1155 and tourist courts in key Thai destinations.”
Thailand opened the first tourist court in Pattaya – the first of its kind in Southeast Asia – in September 2013, to provide a one-stop service for local and foreign tourists seeking justice for unfair practices from scams, thefts, conflicts and accidents. The second tourist court was opened in Phuket in late September, and there are plans to open similar courts in Bangkok, Koh Samui and other major tourist cities in the near future.
Suraphon said, “Tourist safety and security is high on the national agenda, and the Minister of Tourism and Sports is very much looking forward to receiving these recommendations from the private sector.”
Supported by MoTS and sponsored by TAT, the Thailand Tourism Marketing Safety and Security Forum was organized on 15 October and 14 November by the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand, Skål International and Pacific Asia Travel Association Thailand Chapter.
Findings from four workshops held on 15 October were formulated into a written declaration through collaborations with two crisis management academic experts, David Beirman, Senior Lecturer in Tourism at the University of Technology in Sydney and Dr. Alexandros Paraskevas, Senior Lecturer in Strategic Risk Management at the Oxford School of Hospitality Management in the UK.
The recommendations call on all concerns to work together to mitigate risks and promote safety, using all possible resources, such as airlines serving Thailand, online booking websites, social media tools, online bloggers, local and foreign tour companies, mobile phone service providers, travel insurance providers and the like. Safety messages, brochures and signage in several languages are suggested to be readily available to tourists pre- and during trips.
Dr. Paraskevas said government, tourism related operators and tourists all have to be involved in risk awareness and crisis management. “If standards are improved and enforced by all parties, then more tourists will enjoy Thailand and costs overtime will be lower.”
Bert van Walbeek, Chairman of the PATA Thailand Chapter, is confident that a series of realistic and practical measures concluded at the two-part safety and security forum is to start creating awareness of the risks facing Thailand’s tourism industry and to prepare the industry’s readiness to address problems should they occur.