PM confident tourism industry to remain strong

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BANGKOK, Jan 30 – Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Monday expressed confidence that the country’s tourism industry will improve after being negatively impacted by years of political crisis and the recent severe flooding, while urging cooperation from all parties to help boost tourist confidence.

Speaking on the government’s future policy towards Thailand’s tourism industry, the prime minister said the number of 2011 tourist arrivals was recorded at 19.1 million, an increase from the previous year and bringing in a total of Bt730 billion in revenues.

Ms Yingluck said the government considered tourism as the mainstay industry which brings in revenue to the country but in the future the industry will face fierce competition.

The premier stated that clear strategies to develop the industry are needed to prepare Thailand to usher in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015 and to respond to volatile international circumstances.

Ms Yingluck pledged that her government would support the country’s tourism as being designated a year of “Miracle Thailand”, urging cooperation from all parties to boost confidence among tourists.

Thailand will have to show its strength and charms to the world, particularly its culture, according to the premier, adding that the country should become a regional tourist hub connecting to other destinations.

As Thailand’s tourism industry was also hit by the recent travel alert on a possible terrorist threat issued by the US embassy in Bangkok, followed by a travel advisory from over a dozen embassies, Ms Yingluck said the foreign ministry is now discussing with the US embassy on the matter but time is needed.

Many other countries have already lifted the warning and the situation will return to normal soon.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said as no additional country revoked its travel warning, the ministry will invite ambassadors of 16 countries with still standing travel alerts to discuss the matter for better understanding as it has already been 15 days since the US embassy issued the warning.