Govt to boost tourism to stimulate GDP growth

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BANGKOK, May 22 – Deputy Prime Minister/Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong is spearheading a move to generate extra revenue for Thailand through tourism

He held a brain-storming session on Tuesday with heads of the Agriculture, Tourism and Sports, Labour, Public Health and Foreign Ministries, and the private sector to find ways to promote tourism as another major income earner for the country.

Piyaman Tejapaibul, Tourism Council of Thailand president, told the meeting that 8.8 million foreign tourists visited Thailand in the first quarter, 19 per cent higher than last year, year-on-year.

Arrivals of East Asian and European tourists were 29 per cent and 12 per cent higher respectively. European tourists represented 30 per cent of total visitors.

Thailand’s cheaper accommodations and food compared to other countries in the region are advantages contributing to a satisfactory tourism growth in the first quarter, she said, calling on the government to maintain the baht at Bt29-30 against the dollar and pay more attention to the tourism industry.

The government should emphasise quality and high-spending tourists including visitors from China, India and Russia by granting them multiple visas.

She said the Labour Ministry should be allocated a special budget to provide tourism and service training to the Thai labour force given the possibility of 24 million tourists visiting Thailand this year.

The issue of medical tourism was raised in the meeting. Participants proposed extending visas of tourists seeking medical service in Thailand to 90 days while stricter controls should be imposed on the registration of tour operators to ensure reliable services to tourists.

The permanent secretary for finance was assigned to seek budget and loans for operators while tourist attractions and international airports will be improved in time for the high season.