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Former UK PM heads speakers at Bangkok summit

April 24, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Thailand is seeking quality tourists, not mass tourism, the country’s tourism chief has reiterated as Bangkok prepares to host top-quality speakers, including former British Prime Minister David Cameron, at the World Travel Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit this week.

The summit in Bangkok will run from Tuesday (tomorrow) to Thursday.

“We no longer rely on the number of tourist arrivals as a catalyst of growth at a time when more focus is being put on making Thailand a preferred destination to attract quality and not quantity,” the governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Yuthasak Supasorn, confirmed.

In an interview with Bangkok’s The Nation newspaper, Yuthasak revealed that TAT was forecasting Thailand would earn THB 2.7 trillion (about AUD 104 billion) in tourist spending in 2017.

Yuthasak said tourism was no longer defined by, or restricted to, physical borders. Tourists increasingly wanted more than physical attractions, and Thailand needed to focus on developing more interesting, activity-based attractions. It also needed to use more technology, such as location-based information, social media and other digital platforms to reach out to the target customers.

The WTTC Global Summit will attract 700 top executives from 140 companies, representing 30% of the travel and tourism sector.

Key speakers include former British prime minister David Cameron, WTTC president and chief executive officer David Scowsill, United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) secretary-general Taleb Rifai, Thai Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, and Siam Piwat chief executive Chadatip Chutrakul.

Yuthasak said that as the largest tourism destination in Southeast Asia, Thailand was well placed to host the global summit. Thailand also had the highest tourism growth in the region and was 10th in the world.

The forum would also bolster Thailand’s reputation as a reliable MICE (meetings, incentive travel, conventions and exhibitions) destination, able to offer experience as well as modern infrastructure like airports, hotels and transport.

Next year, Thailand will host the 2018 UNWTO World Conference on Gastronomy Tourism.

Yuthasak mentioned that CNN had named Bangkok the city with the world’s best street food, for the second consecutive year. Big appeals included Thainess: friendliness, hospitality and unique Thai culture.

Thailand’s major attraction was it cultural heritage, Yuthasak told the paper.

“As we strive to draw tourists to experience local cultural and leisure activities in secondary provinces, we also must build a better understanding with local people and work collaboratively with local communities to retain the identity of [those that] have become major tourist attractions.”

Written by Peter Needham

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