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Tourism Minister affirms tourism targets

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Tourism Minister affirms tourism targets | The Thaiger
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PHUKET CITY: Tourism and Sports Minister Dr Suwit Yodmanee yesterday affirmed the government’s national targets for 2007 of 14.8 million foreign tourists and 82 million Thai tourists, with earnings of 547,500 million baht and 377,800 million baht respectively.

Dr Suwit announced the targets at a meeting of about 280 government and private sector representatives from the 14 southern provinces at The Metropole hotel. Delegates included Governors, Vice-Governors, police, municipal and Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) officials, travel agents and tour operators.

The domestic tourism plan for the southern region this year is aimed at general tourists, youth and family, working and high-income people, seniors, and corporate travelers, while the foreign tourism marketing plan is aimed at “high quality free individual travelers” (FIT), families, sport groups and honeymoon couples, he said.

The main attractions for the region were outlined as sea, sand, diving, golf, seafood and health services, but the TAT will also promote other attractions, such as culture, sports and entertainment.

Dr Suwit said that the plan for 2007 was to target the niche market of “good quality, foreign tourists”.

He said, “To support the growth of tourism, we must consider upgrading tourism resources according to ‘star rating’ standards, but at the same time use the ‘green leaf’ standard to protect the environment.

“We will also promote sport to attract tourists; and most importantly, help local people and communities to take part in local tourism,” he added.

After the meeting, Dr Suwit said that the most urgent problem that local businesspeople and government agencies had notified him of was the lack of direct international flights to many popular tourist destinations in the southern provinces.

“I will have to talk to the Transportation Ministry to find a way to help tourism in the South, such as connecting flights between Bangkok, Phuket and Haad Yai, and flights to Phang Nga, Samui and Ranong, with international flights,” he said.

“We will also have to study the capacity of some tourism destinations such as Samui, to determine whether they can support the number of tourists and meet demand for electricity and water,” he said.

The decades’ old idea of an international convention center in Phuket was raised again. “Phuket has requested to build a convention center [here], which I think is important; therefore I will discuss it again with the Phuket Governor,” Dr Suwit said.

He concluded by highlighting government efforts in promoting domestic tourism and distributing tourism dollars to those still not benefiting from the tourism bonanza, while making efforts to protect the environment.

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