TCT to push Phuket as ‘high-end’ tourism destination

PHUKET: The Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) has laid out an eight-point strategy to help develop the tourism industry that includes promoting Phuket as a high-end destination and issuing longer tourist visas to help prepare for the Asean Free Trade Agreement (Afta) that goes into effect in 2015.

Piyaman Tejabaibul, the new TCT chairman, said yesterday that building unique and outstanding tourism products and services for the country was the key to competitiveness in the aftermath of the political crisis earlier this year.

The two-year TCT roadmap has eight development plans covering six areas, including marketing, product development and human resources development, he said.

The body yesterday appointed a new board, comprising 35 representatives from both the private and public sector.

The eight measures are as follows:

1. Enhance the country’s overall competitiveness as part of preparations for joining the Afta scheme.

2. Improve private sector strength by enhancing service quality as well as ethics.

3. Take the TCT regional by working with tourism organizations abroad.

4. Help local communities develop viable tourism products.

5. Collect information and develop a database to assist future planning.

6. Work with government bodies for long-term development.

7. Encourage Thais to help promote Thai culture and history as part of “creative tourism”.

8. Develop the body’s internal organization.

Wichit na Ranong, the TCT’s honorary president, said The TCT plans to use Thailand as a gateway into Asean countries by granting longer visas to tourists.

The move is necessary because although the Thai tourism industry continues to grow 6% annually, it faces increasingly tough competition and risks losing tourists and revenue to other countries, including Malaysia, Mr Wichit said.

Kongkrit Hirankit, who chairs the TCT policy committee, said the country has been losing tourists to Bali, Singapore and Malaysia. Average revenue per visitor has been stagnant for 10 years so the focus should be on more quality tourists, he said.

The TCT would like to see the government create some tourism areas specifically to serve high-end visitors. Phuket and Koh Samui were specifically mentioned as target areas.

The council has met with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and urged the government to help develop the entire tourism industry. PM Abhisit said the government was committed to helping the private sector improve the country’s long-term tourism competitiveness, according to the TCT.

— The Nation

Phuket News

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