The Minister of Tourism and Sports, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, is out again making the claim that the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and the Tourism Authority of Thailand should be targeting quality tourists yet each and every day there are press releases giving us the most current foreign tourist arrivals update and more wild claims that Thai Tourism will hit 30 million foreigners this year and 50 million in 2018.
The problem is neither the Minister of Tourism and Sports nor the Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand know how to market to foreigners.
I lived in Hawaii for 22 years before I retired to Thailand in 2010 and I never saw one advertisement from the Minister of Tourism and Sports or the Tourism Authority of Thailand. None of the Travel channel, the Golf channel, nor the Cartoon Network.
The other problem is that the world is wise to what is going on inside of Thailand like never before. Foreigners know that the country is ruled by a dictator, know about the slavery at sea, know about the jet-ski scams, know about dual pricing, and know that Thais only cares about tourists’ money.
The bigger issue is that the Minister of Tourism and Sports says one thing and then the Tourism Authority of Thailand does the opposite. TAT targets backpackers and Chinese on zero-dollar tours.
Even funnier is the title of the article about the Minister of Tourism and Sports new plan: Minister Kobkarn: “Thailand needs to focus on quantity of tourism” – uh, that should be quality and not quantity.
BANGKOK, 05 October 2015, (NNT) – Thailand must adjust its tourism policy, focusing on attracting tourists to remain in the Kingdom longer and spend more, said the Tourism Minister, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul.
And, of course, the Minister of Tourism and Sports didn’t say how she planned on doing this.
The comment was made during the ‘Thailand Moves Forward program’, after the Cabinet had approved the 2015-2017 national tourism plan and a long term tourism strategy.
This is the Thai TV propaganda show with the Prime Minister Dictator rambling about how wonderful things are even though exports are down, GDP is down, domestic debt is at an all time high, and tourism is in the shitter.
The strategy involves cooperation from both the government and the private sector to promote secondary tourism destinations aimed at increasing the number of tourists and the time they stay as well as the money they spend in Thailand. The Minister said the move would help generate income for locals through the sales of native products.
Wrong. Government and Private sector never, ever see eye to eye. Promoting secondary destinations isn’t the answer or they would be bragging about how the Minister Of Tourism And Sports Discover Thainess 2015 campaign with the 12 hidden gems is a rousing success. It is, instead, a complete failure. So, what would make me stay longer and spend more – let me think – lower airfares, inexpensive guesthouses with free WiFi, reasonable food prices, and a good location. Right now, I live in Thailand and I take 2 holidays at a Thai beach every year and each holiday is 3 weeks long. I also go on 1 or 2 road trips in Isaan with my buddy Tom at Isaan Live for 3-5 days at a time and then there is usually some sort of family thing – wedding, entering monkhood, funeral, Thai New Year (Songkran) – that calls for us to go somewhere for a few days or other family members to come here and spend time with us at our house.
The other problem with promoting native products is that usually any event that the local Thai Government sponsors charges outrageous fees to the vendors and many vendors are just selling junk and not any kind of indigenous products. One Tambon, One Product (OTOP) shops are great, but most are usually run down or closed due to lack of interest.
She also pointed out that part of the strategy would involve urging those in the tourism sector to conserve water as well as asking tourists to do, so given that Thailand has been facing water shortage crises.
Conserving water is great and I have stayed at hotels that ask that you only ask for clean towels and linen when you really need them, not daily – but – how this convinces those high quantity quality tourists to visit Thailand is beyond me.
Here is the latest Tourism Authority of Thailand Amazing Thailand video on YouTube promoting Thailand to Thais – something the Minister of Tourism and Sports should address.
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