Thai government’s push to rebuild wounded tourism

Written by admin on December 26, 2008 – 12:29 pm -

Following November’s  week-long Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport closing  caused by the blockades of anti-government protesters, the Ministry of Tourism is taking proactive measures. The airport’s closure plus the civil unrest paralyzed the tourist industry and stranded 300,000 travelers.

The country will spend $450 million during the next four years to reestablish Thailand as a destination of choice. Already the country has adopted an aggressive advertising campaign to begin luring visitors back to Bangkok and Thailand’s many resorts. Wedding packages, special holidays and discounted packages are some of the incentives being offered.

The government realizes that the recent incidents have tarnished the country’s image as a prime tourist destination and may have a lasting effect. The tourism sector directly employs 1.8 million people and generates 6 percent of the GNP. This source of revenue is a major factor in the country’s economy and was in the process of increasing.

Apichart Sankary, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, said Thailand  traditionally welcomes 8,000 to 12,000 foreign tourists a day during its peak season that began in November. That number fell to 5,400 after the airport’s closing.

His optimistic projection is that  12-13 million foreign visitors may come to Thailand in 2009. The Ministry of Tourism is hoping tourists don’t steer clear of their country that has so much to offer. Having just returned from there, how I wish I’d had time to stay longer.

People who are currently spending the holidays there are enjoying far better weather than travlers who are stuck in the U.S., snowed in and having had their travel plans turn to mush.

With the election of the new government, the consensus is that Thailand is politically stable. Tourism should rebound. The biggest question is how fast can it recover and will there be another political shock.

How I wish I could afford to return to Thailand immediately. Paris is my next stop. But I hope to return to Thailand next year and hope I won’t be alone.

Karen Fawcett is president of BonjourParis.

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