Phuket

Thai ambassadors recruited to spread the word

PHUKET: Thai ambassadors based overseas are the best messengers to tell the world that the tsunami-affected areas have fully recovered, Foreign Affairs Minister Kantathi Suphamongkhon announced on Saturday.

About 80 Thai ambassadors based in 62 countries came to Phuket over the weekend for presentations on the recovery of the tourism industry in tsunami-affected areas.

The visit was one leg of a 12-day “Pro actively linking Thailand to the world” conference in Bangkok, held to brainstorm ideas on expanding tourism and augmenting Thailand’s economic and social structure.

In a meeting with the Minister and ambassadors at the Pearl Village Hotel, Nai Yang, the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s (TAT) Deputy Governor, Juthaporn Ruengronasa, described the impact of the tsunami on the Andaman region.

“Thailand earned more than 300 trillion baht [from tourism] last year. However, because of the tsunami, revenue decreased by one third in the first six months of 2005,” K. Juthaporn said.

“In the second quarter of this year, hotel occupancy in the Andaman region averaged only 20% to 25% However, we believe that occupancy will rise in the third and fourth quarter.”

She continued, “Tourists are not yet returning in the numbers we had hoped for, due to their lack of confidence in the safety of the region and their reluctance to take a vacation in an area where thousands of people died.

“The TAT is conducting a lot of publicity campaigns to restore the upbeat image of the Andaman region, both inside and outside Thailand. We are also counting on the ambassadors to help bring tourists back again.”

K. Kantathi said that, overseas, Thailand’s ambassadors would be the foremost source of information about the Andaman region. The key message they should convey is that it is safe to travel here, as warning systems to international standards are in place.

He said, “The most important thing our ambassadors can do now is to communicate the facts to people abroad.”

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