Connect with us


Opinion: “Thainess’ falls short of ecologically sustainable tourism

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: In the past 20 years, Thailand’s tourism industry has grown in leaps and bounds due to the hard work of the industry’s private-sector and effective campaigns created by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

One of the TAT’s most successful ever was its “Amazing Thailand” campaign launched in 1998, which aimed to bolster the country’s tourism income after the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

The campaign was only designed to run for a year, but the phrase turned into such a buzz around the world that it went on to become the de facto tourism campaign for the next five years, until it was toppled in 2003 by “Unseen Thailand”.

Even today, there are very few foreign tourists who haven’t heard the Amazing Thailand slogan.

Back when it was launched, arrivals to Thailand were only 7.76 million. Today, those figures have jumped to more than three times that number. Last year, the total number of visitors was 24.7mn, despite the political crisis.

But has all this promotional activity been worth it? Has Thailand really invested in its natural beauty, or has it slowly allowed the tourism industry and other sectors to chip away and destroy the very resources from which it has gained so many tourism dollars?

The government’s campaigns to promote the country’s tourism to the world are just like any other capitalist venture created to sell a product: They hide the real truth for the sake of profit.

In the last two decades, the Thai government has paid only lip-service to the dangers of environmental degradation; to the damage that poorly planned tourism products can cause; to the polluters; and to the destroyers of Thailand’s natural habitat.

Its message – to the tourism industry; to corporations and to the Thai people – has been a clear one: We value profit over the preservation of our environment and natural resources. No wonder that today pollution pervades almost every corner of Phuket.

When did you last see a promotional campaign in Phuket – or anywhere in Thailand, for that matter – to stop people from littering, for example? In fact, when did you last see a trash bin?

Even in the face of destruction in Phuket, and elsewhere in Thailand, the Thai government does nothing to protect nature for the generations of future visitors – let alone for the people of the Kingdom.

Earlier this year, Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul named Phuket as Thailand’s “poster child” for tourism (story here).

There was no mention of the real environmental crisis facing the country; instead she was happy to announce that the government was looking at ways to “increase tourism spending per head.”

She then went on to say that the fundamental selling point for tourism was its “Thainess”.

Ms Kobkarn did not elaborate on exactly what Thainess is composed of, but if she meant that it is the true embodiment of the Thai spirit, then that Thainess, which tourists purportedly seek, could be in very short supply once Thailand’s natural habitat has been truly pillaged for profit.

— Daniel Wilson


Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Thailand4 mins ago

Nakhon Si Thammarat prison sealed off as infections climb

Coronavirus (Covid-19)5 mins ago

Covid-19: Detailed info on vaccinations, hospitalisations, and provinces

Thailand40 mins ago

Lack of migrant workers forces government to appeal to Thais to fill vacant jobs

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Thailand1 hour ago

Songkhla motorcycle showroom catches on fire, no injuries reported

Phuket2 hours ago

Covid-19 prison death yesterday the second this week in Phuket

Thailand2 hours ago

Unemployed Bangkok chef arrested after allegedly trying to sell rare butterflies to undercover agents

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Coronavirus (Covid-19)3 hours ago

Phuket Covid-19: 1 Phuket Prison death, 1 Sandbox infection

Central Thailand3 hours ago

Bovine attack kills forest ranger in Khao Yai National Park

Thailand5 hours ago

Korat Police allegedly use police van for trip to beach

Thailand5 hours ago

Kalasin man allegedly robs convenience store and then a gold shop the next day before being arrested

Coronavirus (Covid-19)7 hours ago

Sunday Covid Update: 117 deaths and 13,576 new cases

Tourism22 hours ago

Local businesses say they aren’t profiting from Phuket Sandbox

Crime22 hours ago

Woman shot by stray gunfire during motorcycle shooting

Phuket24 hours ago

Phuket pair arrested in possession of meth pills, homemade gun

Coronavirus (Covid-19)1 day ago

Prayut to propose to CCSA to reopen theatres, allow filmmaking

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14 | Thaiger
Thailand5 days ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism7 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism7 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism7 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11