Pheu Thai Party wants to reform tourism, cut red tape

PHOTO: Paetongtarn Shinawatra's Pheu Thai Party suggests tourism reform, but it doesn't sound much different. (via Paetongtarn Shinawatra official Instagram)

The Pheu Thai Party is calling for reform of the way Thailand approaches tourism, though its focus seems to be the same as the ruling party’s. The opposition party held a brainstorming session on Friday to discuss how to improve tourism in Thailand. They stressed branching out and eliminating outdated red tape, but also put their hope squarely on medical tourism.

Paetongtarn Shinawatra, the daughter of former prime minister Thaksin, current head of the Pheu Thai Party, and popular candidate for a possible prime minister run, posted on Facebook about the future of tourism in the country. She says the industry lacks a strong foundation, hampering and slowing recovery coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic.

She called for industry reform to streamline procedures and governance of the tourism industry and the nixing of laws and regulations that no longer make sense. Different governmental departments have piecemealed jurisdiction over the tourism industry. Depending on the size of a property, it might be governed by the Ministry of Interior, which regulates hotel law, or the Department of Tourism, which handles small homestay properties.

Aside from the haphazard laws and organisation of tourism in Thailand, Paetongtarn and her party say the country is in a rut, promoting the same “sun, sand, sea” marketing plan to lure tourists. She calls for a broadening of appeal to cover science exploration trips, medical health, nature, and more underappreciated advantages Thailand has to offer.

As with the current government, the Pheu Thai Party is sure that medical tourism is the next big thing that’s going to draw foreigners en masse to the country. Paetongtarn called it the segment with the highest growth potential. Officials feel that people travelling to Thailand for medical purposes will have plenty of money to spend and be able to stay in Thailand for a longer period of time.

It has been a growing revenue producer for the country since 2020. In fact, medical tourism in general has been a surging trend worldwide. Like the current government, Pheu Thai Party plans to focus on that segment.

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.