In a dazzling ceremony at the Impact Muang Thong Thani on Sunday night, 117 Thai enterprises were conferred the kingdom’s top tourism awards in recognition of their contribution to upgrading the quality, professionalism and service standards of Thailand’s largest foreign exchange generating economic sector.
Ranging from spas to homestays, community-based tourism associations to national parks and animal protection institutions, the winners of the Thailand Tourism Awards were specifically judged on the criteria of highlighting Thai culture, protecting the environment and contributing to society.
The vast majority of them, especially the hotels and tour operators, were small- and medium-sized enterprises, owned and operated by Thais. All of them were geographically distributed nationwide.
Hailing their commitment to exemplary standards in design, management and marketing, Minister of Tourism and Sports H.E. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said, “Such award-winning products and services will go a long way towards upholding the “Thainess” concept as a source of competitive advantage in an ever-changing operating environment. The number of visitors we get every year is not important. Providing high quality services that keeps them coming back is more important.”
In a message to the Thai tourism industry, UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai congratulated TAT for holding the awards on World Tourism Day, the theme of which is “One Billion Tourists, One Billion Opportunities”. He said, “This powerful global movement holds immense potential to contribute to job creation, environmental protection and multicultural peace and understanding.”
The UNWTO Secretary General added, “Thailand has the distinction of being one of the leading tourism destinations in the world, renowned for its vibrant cultural heritage and natural beauty. Tourism continues to be a driving force behind Thailand’s economic growth, inclusive development and the celebration of the country’s unique culture.”
In his statement, TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn stated that the Awards would set a benchmark and encourage the entire Thai tourism industry to raise its standards. He pledged that TAT would give the Award winners, especially the SMEs, full support to raise their profile at international trade shows.
The Governor said, “The upcoming period of ASEAN integration will not only boost intra-ASEAN travel, but also require us to differentiate our products and services from each other. “Thainess” is Thailand’s answer to that challenge.”
This year, the judging criteria stressed the pursuit of “Thainess” including the management of tourism products that are environmentally friendly in line with the principles of His Majesty the King’s Sufficiency Economy, deliver innovative and creative marketing campaigns, particularly via social media, and value creation.
In line with the UNWTO’s principles of sustainability, the judging criteria required applicants to show how they were helping conserve the country’s natural resources, mitigate climate change, contribute to economic and social development, practice good governance and pursue innovation.
The full list of six award categories this year included:
1. Hall of Fame (7 Awards)
2. Tourism Support and Promotion Organisation (14 Awards)
3. Tourist Attractions (13 Awards of Excellence and 31 Outstanding Awards)
4. Tourist Accommodation (7 Awards of Excellence and 8 Outstanding Awards)
5. Health Tourism (9 Awards of Excellence, 10 Outstanding Awards)
6. Tour Program (6 Awards for Excellence and 12 Outstanding Awards)