Seven Thai political parties lay out ideas to provide a fillip to tourism
The representatives of seven Thai political parties shared similar ideas on reviving and improving the country's tourism industry, by simplifying regulations, integrating education, lowering costs, and promoting sustainability.
The discussion was part of the 19th joint meeting of the Association of Thai Travel Agents on Tuesday. The goal was to offer updates on the travel and hotel business situation, discuss some challenges, and look for solutions among members.
Woraphop Viriyaroj from Move Forward Party, Sampan Panpat from Chartthaipattana Party, Thames Kraitat from Chart Pattana Kla Party, Sorathep Rojpotjanaruch from Thai Sang Thai Party, Pimrapee Phanwichatikul from Democrat Party, Jakkapon Tangsuttitham from Pheu Thai Party and Khemapol Auitayakul from Bhumjaithai Party were the panellists.
They unanimously agreed that the tourism industry is one of the critical engines driving Thailand's economy. However, there is still work to be done to make the country the best in the world in the long run.
Each party's tourism policy has some similarities. They informed the audience, who were mostly hotel and travel business owners and entrepreneurs, that the country's tourism regulations are outdated and overly bureaucratic.
These regulations must be amended in collaboration with the private sector. The laws must be simplified for ease of access and to save time, they said.
Meanwhile, Thailand must improve its infrastructure throughout the country in order to receive millions of tourists each year, as well as find or create new products that will keep tourists returning to the country.
Woraphop of the Move Forward Party wants the government to decentralise power to local governors who understand what their communities require and which solutions are best for them.
Thames from the Chart Pattana Kla Party agreed with Woraphop. He noted that some well-known tourist destinations, such as his hometown Phuket, require a certain level of independence in order to make the best decision for them.
He believed that if each local community had some level of autonomy, they could discover their own identity. This will aid in attracting tourists to less-visited secondary cities.
Sampan from the Chartthaipattana Party added that his party's goal was to uncover secondary cities' hidden potential. This movement will support the goal of making the country a year-round tourist destination.
He also emphasised the importance of entrepreneurs being self-sufficient by establishing some kind of fund, such as an emergency fund, to help their business with liquidity in times of crisis. The fund could be derived from the taxes paid by businesses to the government.
Sorathep from the Thai Sang Thai Party called for the creation of a proper crisis management plan so that the government and the private sector can respond quickly if something like the Covid-19 pandemic occurs in the future.
He also mentioned finding new potential markets, such as the ageing market, to generate more revenue.
Pimrapee of the Democrat Party insisted on reforming the country's tax collection system as well as business registration so that the government has all necessary data to draft policy.
The government's job as a policymaker, however, is to make it easier for entrepreneurs to conduct business rather than to issue orders, she said.
Jakkapon from Pheu Thai Party said that in order to increase the overall capacity of the travel and hospitality industries, both the public and private sectors should adopt new innovations and technologies.
These technologies would help increase service capacity and security in addition to catering to the needs of today's tourists, who are primarily tech-savvy.
Khemapol of the Bhumjaithai Party, whose party currently oversees the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, said that his party aims to step up cooperation between the public and private sectors to improve the tourism industry that would balance the needs of the nation, the business community, the people, and the environment.
Meanwhile, all parties agreed that looking for immigrants would only be a temporary solution given the current urgent need for workers in the industry.
They suggested working with universities and vocational schools to give students the chance to work as interns or while they are still in school in order to take long-term action.
They are also in favour of seriously implementing the Bio-Circular-Green economy model in the travel and tourism sector.
The tourism policy discussion comes in the run-up to the general election, tentatively scheduled for May, hoping that the new administration would help steer the nation clear of trouble.