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[ 2015-01-12 ]

Tourism Council of Thailand urges government to lift martial law

BANGKOK, Thailand - The Tourism Council of Thailand has urged the government to restore tourists' confidence and boost arrivals from key markets after targets were missed last year.

TCT president Ittirit Kinglake said people in markets such as Europe, Australia, Japan, China and the United States were still worried about traveling to Thailand while political issues remain unresolved.

"Martial law in the key concern," he said.

However, people in Southeast Asia are less concerned about Thailand's political woes. Arrivals from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia are likely to return to double-digit growth this year.

The TCT called for the government to publicise security and safety issues in order to regain tourists' confidence. Several insurers have been offering special deals for tourists but apparently have had little success.

"Lifting martial law is what the private sector wants to see," Ittirit said.

Last year, 24.7 million tourists visited Thailand, down from 26.7 million in 2013, a 6.6-per-cent drop due mainly to political tensions and the Russian rouble crisis. The arrival target was 28 million. The drop in tourist numbers also resulted in 5.8 per cent less revenue.

This year, Thailand expects 25.5 million arrivals and hopes to reach 29 million in 2016.

To achieve these goals, the TCT asked the authorities to seek of tourists in newly opened countries such as Myanmar, countries in Eastern Europe, as well as niche travellers from mature markets.

Moreover, it may need special activities and promotions to regain slow markets like Russia, Japan, China and South Korea.

Travel agents and hotels are also urged to seek new customers from alternative markets in order to avoid losses.

The TCT today (January 12) will announce four planned focuses for this year: digital economy for tourism, human-resource development, seeking out new markets, and strategic connectivity with the Asean Economic Community.

Thawatchai Arunyik, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, said the agency had rescheduled the country's biggest tourism event, the Thailand Tourism Festival. It now will be held during January 14-18 from this Wednesday till Sunday at Lumpini Park in Bangkok.

The TTF is normally held in June in conjunction with the country's largest travel trade fair, the Thailand Travel Mart Plus. But this is a special year for Thailand's tourism, so the TAT has rescheduled the TTF coincide with the grand opening celebration of the "2015 Discover Thainess" campaign.

"The [event] will showcase unique cultural treasures and the Thai way of happiness to international visitors, as well as to encourage Thai people to take part in the preservation of Thai traditions and culture," Thawatchai said.

On the main stage, visitors will be invited to enjoy daily traditional and contemporary performances, including some rare Thai folk-dance traditions. Highlights include the Khon Thai masked dance, a Thai martial-arts show, a Thai puppet show, and traditional Thai gag shows, as well as concerts and music performances from well-known singers and famous bands.

On Wednesday, the opening day, there will be a parade running 3.5 kilometres from the National Stadium along Rama I Road to Ratchaprasong Intersection before turning into Ratchadamri Road and finally arriving at Lumpini Park.


eTN Global  Travel Industry News  Jan 11