Thai Tourism Action Plans 2015

Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Thailand’s Minister of Tourism and Sports has laid out her Thai Tourism Action Plans for 2015 and it looks like another dire year in Thailand.

The unqualified Minister of Tourism and Sports has come up with Thai Tourism Action Plans that are geared towards domestic tourism since both the MOTS and the Tourism Authority of Thailand don’t have a clue when it comes to marketing to foreigners.

Thai Tourism Koh Lipe Sunset on Sunrise Beach

Thai Tourism Koh Lipe Sunset on Sunrise Beach

The Minister of Tourism and Sports is still reeling from 2014’s coup d’etat, martial law, double murders on Koh Tao, and the normal, every day scams that plague Phuket and Pattaya.

But, this boss lady has her Thai Tourism Action Plans for 2015 ready – so let’s take a look at what is in store for Thai Tourism in 2015.

The Thai tourism industry is expected to face another tough year, judging from a slow economic recovery in key markets. But stakeholders are optimistic that arrivals will soar from 25 million in 2015 to 29 million in 2016.

So, they have already written off 2015 as a failure. Previous predictions were 30 million in 2015.

The tourism sector accounts for 10 per cent of the economy and the Kingdom has been listed as a top global destination for years. But now the Tourism and Sports Ministry has set 2015 as a year for restructuring and rebranding the country’s image in a bid to boost competitiveness.

I would like proof that Thai Tourism accounts for 10% of the GDP. Restructuring and re-branding? I thought 2015 Discover Thainess year.

“The ministry is ready to run a one-year plan to reconstruct the industry and line up fundamentals for long-term growth,” Tourism Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said.

By making Pattaya a world-class destination, making Nan a go-to place, and promoting shrimp paste on Koh Phangan instead of full moon parties. Sounds like a plan to me!

The ambition is to increase the country’s ability to deal with challenges, including tough global competition, since many other countries also consider tourism a key economic driver. Negative images and perceptions that Thai tourism is cheap also need to change, along with rebuilding the deteriorating environment and other attractions, the ministry believes.

Anyone come up with a budget to fix Thailand’s infrastructure?

Challenges ahead include the growing number of Chinese tourists. The ageing society in some key markets could bring an opportunity for medical and health tourism, while the focus will remain on maintaining a repeat-visit ratio of 60-70 per cent and welcoming more free independent travellers. Furthermore, the new landscape of social media and online travel searches will lead to and shift some big changes both in consumer behaviour and operators’ methodologies.

So, too many Chinese tourists is a bad thing? Health tourism with all the health product scams and plastic surgery muck ups? I would also like proof of the 60-70 percent repeat visitors. I doubt it is that high. Online and social media – this coming from the Minister of Tourism and Sports who hasn’t posted on Facebook since April 2013.

At Thai Airways International, Charamporn Jotikasthira will this year lead a major restructuring of the business model to compete with a tough global environment. Plans have been updated as its clear the economies in Japan, Europe and the United States have not recovered yet.

Thai Air is just as clueless losing money hand over fist.

Moreover, effects of disease outbreaks, especially the Ebola epidemic in East Africa, are flowing directly into the travel industry.

After the initial scare, no, it hasn’t.

Chanin Donavanik, managing director and chief executive officer of Dusit International, said Thai tourism had no problem with products and services. The one major item bothering tourists was the political scene.

And, the lack of democratic elections, martial law, spot checks for drugs on Sukhumvit Road that are extortion scams, murders, rapes, muggings, drugs, and the daily scams at Pattaya and Phuket.

“It should be made sure there are no mistakes arising from this political [environment],” he warned.

There are mistakes daily or have you forgotten Prayuth’s bikini comment?

Another hotel veteran, William Heinecke, chairman and CEO of Minor International, said a political crisis could hit tourism and renew fears among business travellers coming in for meetings, incentives, conventions or exhibitions (MICE). Reminders of martial law were also deterring visitors from key markets like Europe and the United States, he said.

This is Mr. Pizza Company who wrote an open letter to Ambassadors in Thailand begging them to remove travel advisories after the Bangkok Shutdown protests started since he was losing hotel and pizza revenue.

Panga Vathanakul, who runs one of largest hotel outfits in Pattaya – Royal Cliff Hotels Group – said political problems had caused tourists to shift to other destinations. If the government wanted tourists back, there should no internal problems. The improvement of infrastructure, especially transport systems, would also help restore the travel industry.

All true – but who will pay?

However, both private and official sectors confidently claim that Thailand remains an attractive destination for tourists from around the world.

Both private and official sectors are delusional.

 This year up to the end of October, Thailand had welcomed 19.7 million visitors, while revenue from inbound travel was Bt905 billion, a drop of 6.5 per cent from the first 10 months in 2013.

January to October Thai Tourism was down 8.72%.

In 2015, Thailand is expected to have 25.5 million arrivals, a slight increase from this year’s projection and earning total income of Bt1.8 trillion. International tourism is expected to reach 29 million in 2016 and generate overall revenue of Bt2.2 trillion.

In 2015, Thai Tourism was supposed to be at 30 million but due to political climate and the failure of the Tourism Authority of Thailand to attract tourists, that number will be much lower.

Kobkarn, who was chosen as tourism and sports minister by the military government, has been running a national campaign called Discover Thainess. Other plans have already been prepared to revitalise the industry, including rebranding and repositioning attractions at provincial and regional sites, aimed at increasing the number of high-spending tourists.

Kobkarn has been running nothing. She is only the Minister of Tourism and Sports because her husband, the General, is buddies with PM Prayuth. All of this rebranding and repositioning talk is bullshit.

Bangkok will be rebranded and noted for its river cruises, complemented with existing variety products such as shopping, dining, weekend holidays, history and culture.

Don’t forget traffic jams, air pollution, over-priced meals and hotels, scams at the Grand Palace, and the ever present hookers on Sukhumvit Road.  TAT may also want to promote the Khao San Road Ghetto.

Pattaya, which is famed as a nightlife and beach town, will be transformed by world-class sports activities and also as a family destination.

Not in my lifetime.

Koh Pha Ngan, now known as home to the world’s most popular full-moon party, will be turned into a resort based more on “Thainess”.

Promoting shrimp paste.

Phuket is targeted as a venue for premium cruises and a destination for MICE, together with beaches and diving.

Tried before and failed. Too much greed.

Nan province in the North is set to become a site for eco-tourism, biking and tourism for older folk.

Older folk?  Most “folk” when they hear “Nan” will say “Where the fuck is that”?

The Tourism Association of Thailand also plans to promote “12 Must Not Miss Provinces” throughout the Kingdom. The plans are expected to attract more visitors as well as boost awareness for local people.

This is to promote flowers in 12 different provinces to local Thais.

The establishment of a centre for information gathering and crisis management are urgently required this year, experts say.

May be established but will remain clueless on gathering info and especially on crisis management since all that means is sugar coating the bad news.

In 2013, the average tourist’s length of stay in Thailand was 9.8 days, the highest rate among Asean nations. Spending per head per trip was also at top level in the region with US$1,400 (Bt42,000).

So, $140 per day per tourist. Bullshit.

Thai Tourism is in the shitter and will remain there until long after martial law is lifted.

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Categories:   TAT, Thailand