Southeast Asia’s tourism leader aims to become more sustainable
Thailand leads tourism in Southeast Asia with over 38 million international travellers in 2018. Tourism authorities are however now looking at more sustainable ways to continue growing the tourism pie.
Controlling tourism flows has been an increasing concern of Thailand Ministry of Sports and Tourism as well as the Tourism Authority of Thailand. The Kingdom reached a new tourism record last year with 38.2 million foreign travellers (up by 7.5%). Tourism receipts exceeded €54.4bn, up by 10%. Europe represented the second largest inbound source market by continent after Asia generating over 6.76 million travellers, up by 3.86% over 2017.
WE ARE NO LONGER ONLY A MARKETING AND PROMOTION AGENCY BUT ALSO A SOCIAL TOOL TO FOSTER TOURISM TO REDUCE INEQUALITIES FOR LOCAL POPULATIONS
The rise in tourism puts pressure on many destinations, from the area around the Grand Palace in Bangkok to some beach areas in Pattaya or Phuket. “We need to move away of concentrating tourism movements in a few destinations to avoid the sensitive issue of overcrowding and environmental damage. Encouraging tourists to explore second and third-tier destinations is a solution but it must be done in coordination with local communities,” explains Thailand Minister of Sports and Tourism, Weerasak Kowsurat.
TAT is following that trend. Present in Berlin, Tanes Petsuwan, Deputy Governor International Marketing and Communications highlights that TAT is now endorsing a new role. “We are no longer only a marketing and promotion agency, but also a social tool to foster tourism to reduce inequalities for local populations,” explains M. Petsuwan.
“We now promote over 50 second- tier and third-tier destinations that we classify according to criteria such as connectivity, accessibility, accommodation, possibility of activities and sightseeing. We already identify six to ten destinations deemed as mature to welcome international travellers,” adds the TAT Deputy Governor. Among the destinations seen as mature are Chiang Rai, Chumphon, Khon Kaen, Nan and Trat. Various initiatives have been launched in recent months to strengthen the sustainable character of tourism in Thailand. TAT is campaigning to of cially ban single-use plastic through its “Travel Thailand in Style, Reduce Plastic Waste” initiative. Conducted with private partners such as Expedia or hotels, the campaign has the ambition of cut tourism-related waste by up to 50% by 2020. Among other measures taken recently is a complete ban of smoking on public beaches
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