Thailand Aims to Boost Tourism Infrastructure and Services

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Photo Courtesy : bangkokpost

BANGKOK, Thailand – The Thai government is committed to improving the nation’s tourism infrastructure and services over the next four years, aiming to boost its ranking in the World Economic Forum (WEF) Travel and Tourism Development Index.

Thailand’s ranking in the WEF index fell from 36th to 47th, revealing weaknesses in infrastructure and services at popular tourist destinations. Tourism and Sports Minister Sermsak Pongpanich acknowledged these shortcomings and emphasized the need for a targeted improvement plan. The ministry plans to collaborate with relevant authorities to enhance transport systems and develop Thailand into an inclusive destination catering to all ages and needs.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has prioritized infrastructure upgrades, including airport expansions in key areas. He is confident that these efforts will help Thailand improve its WEF ranking within the government’s four-year term. Additionally, the cabinet has approved extending visa-free stays for citizens from 93 countries starting next month. Mr. Sermsak stated that the ministry is working with the Immigration Bureau and Tourist Police to ensure tourist safety and convenience.

There is also potential for expanding the visa-free scheme to more countries. However, Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, noted that the 60-day visa-free scheme might not significantly benefit inbound tourism, as the average length of stay for most tourists is no more than two weeks. He warned that the longer stay could lead to more foreigners working illegally in Thailand.

As of May 27, Thailand had earned 683 billion baht in revenue from 14.3 million tourists, with an annual target of 2.38 trillion baht. Mr. Sisdivachr expressed skepticism about meeting this goal, noting that the tourism industry would need to triple its revenue in the final quarter.

Thailand’s tourism sector relies heavily on existing attractions, often repackaging old sites with new promotions rather than developing new attractions. Thienprasit Chaiyapatranun, president of the Thai Hotels Association, suggested that facilitating longer stays might lead tourists to choose long-stay properties over hotels. He recommended that the government implement new methods to track tourist whereabouts and consider allocating funds to boost domestic tourism, especially for properties with fewer than three stars in slower-recovering provinces.

Attendees at recent discussions on this issue included Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, Tourism and Sports Minister Sermsak Pongpanich, Association of Thai Travel Agents President Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, and Thai Hotels Association President Thienprasit Chaiyapatranun.

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