Amazing Thailand: Tourism officials plan to market ‘Pita fever’ globally
If the charismatic leader of the Move Forward Party fails in his bid to become Thailand’s next prime minister, he already has another high-profile option lined up – tourism ambassador for the “Land of the Smile”.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said on Thursday that it is planning to use Pita Limjaroenrat, 42, to charm more tourists to the kingdom by making him a tourism ambassador.
Pita's appeal could entice more foreign tourists - particularly younger ones from China, South Korea, and Japan - to visit the Land of the Smile, TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said on Thursday.
Pita, leader of Move Forward, is the candidate of an eight-party coalition to become Thailand’s next prime minister, though some analysts say he still faces a threat from the military-backed parties the coalition annihilated in the May 14 election.
Pita is a great candidate to be an ambassador for Thailand's tourism sector because he is popular with younger people, Yuthasak said.
“It would be advantageous if Pita agreed to serve as Thailand's ambassador for the tourism industry since he possesses the qualities of a key opinion leader,” Yuthasak said.
The marketing phrase "key opinion leader", is used to describe an "influencer" with expert or celebrity appeal who can attract attention for a brand.
Move Forward deputy leader Sirikanya Tansakul recently announced the party plans to speak with agencies in the tourism sector.
She did not mention whether or not Pita was considering becoming Thailand's tourism ambassador.
The formation of the new government is expected to be concluded in August.
Yuthasak said policies by the new administration will be crucial to ensure Thailand meets its goal of attracting at least 25 million tourists this year.
Thailand is on track to welcome 10 million visitors during the first five months of this year, he said.
About 50,000 foreign nationals are expected to arrive in Thailand each day in May, Yuthasak said.
Last month, more than 80,000 foreign nationals visited Thailand per day on average, but the numbers surged during Songkran, he added.
Chamnan Srisawat, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, agreed that appointing Pita as a tourism ambassador would be part of a “quick-win” strategy.
He urged the next government to improve the quality of sites to make them more attractive to tourists.
The next tourism minister should come from either the Pheu Thai or Move Forward parties, Chamnan added.
Harvard-educated Pita has a massive youth following in Thailand and would be ideal for promoting domestic as well as foreign tourism, Yuthasak said.
The TAT has a reputation globally for being one of the most dynamic and innovative tourism agencies in the world.