By SUCHAT SRITAMA
THE THAI Ecotourism and Adventure Travel Association (TEATA) plans to develop sustainable tourism throughout the region using the Thai model.
TEATA president Duangkamol Chansuriyawong said the association planned to promote ecotourism in terms of product development and strategic marketing to other countries, particularly in Southeast Asia. It plans to organise the first ecotourism conference in Thailand in the second half of this year to increase awareness among local people as well as to provide key guidelines for other countries.
Thailand has expertise in this area. It has been certified by the Global Sustainable Tourism Alliance as attaining international standards initiated by the European Union.
Key success of Thailand including green hotel practice and community based tourism village green.
However, Duangkamol pointed out that Vietnam was becoming a major competitor for Thai ecotourism because its government had strengthened its marketing at international event. Laos is also a potential market for ecotourism.
According to TEATA, Thais themselves need to understand more about ecotourism, as international markets already know about Thailand’s prowess in this kind of tourism.
Taweebpong Wichaidit, deputy director-general of the Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (DASTA), said it would work with TEATA to develop more ecotourism destinations in order to attract more local and international visitors.
More than 800,000 foreign ecotourists are expected this year, a 20-per-cent increase from 2014. Key source markets are the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Scandinavia, the United States, Australia and New Zealand. The number of ecotourists is expected to reach 1 million within two or three years.
To reach out to target markets, TEATA and DASTA plan to brand potential destinations as new niche attractions. One of the attractions being branded is Chiang Khan, an old community on the Mekong River in Loei province.
Last year, Chiang Khan received 629,700 visitors and generated income of Bt994 million.