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Phuket Opinion: Sloganeering down a silly slope

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PHUKET: Days after the brutal stabbing of an Australian travel agent on a “familiarization tour” of Phuket, and the mysterious poisoning deaths of two young Québécoises on Koh Phi Phi, comes an announcement by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) trumpeting the success of its latest promotional campaign slogan: “Discover the Other You”.

It’s all part of the TAT’s larger “Creative Tourism” campaign, which it claims “generated 24 million visitors” to a recent online competition.

This is “Amazing” stuff, but just the latest in a long string of slogans generated by the TAT during its “Miracle Year Of Amazing Thailand” campaign that will span all of 2012 – if we survive it.

For those who may be a bit confused by what actually constitutes “creative tourism”, there is actually a definition for it in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia: tourism related to the active participation of travellers in the culture of the host community, through interactive workshops and informal learning experiences.

The TAT release reads, “the top 3 Creative Tourism [sic] activities that potential tourists want to experience are Thai massage, Thai cooking and Thai boxing” – presumably not all at the same time.

Apparently there are more kinds of tourism than many of us might have imagined. The entry for Creative Tourism comes right before that for “Dark Tourism”, which is defined as “involving visits to ‘dark’ sites, such as battlegrounds, scenes of horrific crimes or acts of genocide, for example: concentration camps.”

This is followed by “Doom Tourism”… and so on.

Hopefully, since we are a Land of Smiles, the TAT will pass on these last two themes in 2013.

But one can never be sure, given the TAT’s penchant to latch on to just about anything to keep tourism rolling with ever greater momentum. Let’s not forget that rescue teams were still pulling bodies out of mangrove forests after the 2004 tsunami disaster when the TAT brainstormed its “Tsunami Trail” idea to lure visitors to the region. The Phuket Gazette doesn’t remember anything becoming of it – maybe someone tipped them off with the message: “too soon, too soon”.

Following the equally-inscrutable “Unseen Thailand” campaign, the “Discover the Other You” initiative is likely to generate more wisecracks abroad than backpacks at Suvarnabhumi arrival hall.

We understand that every government agency needs to be seen to be doing something. All we ask is that they find some other way to justify their bloated budgets than coming up with a never-ending series of surreal slogans and brain-bending marketing babble. We don’t need it: Thailand is Amazing enough as it is.

 

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