PM envisages 8 hubs in ambitious vision for Thailand’s economic future


Thailand will be developed into hubs in eight areas, including tourism, food, logistics and aviation, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said on Thursday, as he laid out his plans for the country's future.

Srettha unveiled his “Thailand Vision” in his speech at the “Ignite Thailand” conference at Government House, which laid out ambitious plans for making the country the hubs for tourism, medical treatment, food, aviation, logistics, electric vehicles, digital economy and finance.

Over 500 heads of government agencies, Cabinet members and media crew joined the event.

In his speech, Srettha said his government would push Thailand to be No. 1 in the eight areas, capitalising on the kingdom’ss location advantage and good infrastructure that could be further developed, apart from a qualified work force with high potential.

Tourism hub

Srettha said that his government would make Thailand a tourism hub of the region by doing away with travel restrictions, providing free entry visas and unlocking regulations that stand in the way of international event organisers.

Srettha noted that while Thailand was ranked 50th in the world in terms of volume, it ranked eighth in terms of foreign arrivals.

He said the tourism industry generated income for one-third of Thais and the value generated by tourism was about 2.3 trillion baht each year, or about 70% of the nation’s annual budget.

To achieve the goal of becoming a tourism hub, his government would look for more events, culture, foods or other items that could promote Thai soft power on the global stage, Srettha said.

Among other things, the Muay Thai martial art could be promoted as a soft power to attract more foreign tourists to the kingdom.

His government would also push certain provinces, such as Nan in the North, to win recognition from UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, to draw more foreign tourists.

Most of all, his government would “unlock” all restrictions by proving free entry visas to more countries and territories apart from China, Kazakhstan, India and Taiwan and would seek cooperation with neighbouring countries so that Thailand could be the centre for foreign tourists to continue on their travels to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

The government will also amend all the rules that stand in the way of tourism promotion, such as the alcohol sale time law and the law on closing hours for pubs and bars.

All rules will be liberalised to allow world event organisers to come to Thailand to organise concerts, arts shows and film festivals, Srettha added.

The PM said the government aimed at make Thailand “homestay” for the world by promoting natural, historical, and cultural selling points as well as way of life of local people.

Wellness and medical hub

Srettha said his government would support the development of the medical industry to make Thailand a comprehensive healthcare hub for the world.

He highlighted that Thailand’s medical services were renowned worldwide because of good quality, and Thai massage and spa services also were popular.

He said Thai medical services could take care of babies to the elderly at reasonable prices, therefore medical services were popular among foreign tourists.

He said wellness tourism generated some 40 billion baht in revenue for the country last year.

The government would also upgrade its 30-baht universal healthcare for local people to allow them to use just one ID card to receive free healthcare from any hospital or clinic in the country, he revealed.

PM envisages 8 hubs in ambitious vision for Thailand’s economic future

Agriculture and food hub

Srettha said his government would ensure that Thailand would become the kitchen of the world and would be capable of exporting cooked foods to any part of the world.

The prime minister said Thailand had an abundance of farm, livestock and fishing products that could be processed into foods for exports.

Moreover, Thailand is well-known for tasty foods, proved by the fact that 35 restaurants have won Michelin Stars and 196 restaurants have won Michelin Guide recognition.

He said his government would boost the income of farmers by at least 75 per cent of their current earnings during the current government’s tenure.

The government would expand the irrigation system to cover 40 million rai (6.4 million hectares) of farmland to ensure the country would be capable of producing enough food for the world.

The Untied Nations has estimated the world population to grow by 2 billion to 10 billion in 2050, so Thailand would be able to earn a lot by making foods for export, he said.

The government would also develop plant-based protein foods and improve the quality of halal foods for export.

Aviation hub

Srettha said Thailand’s location was a strong point in helping it emerge as the aviation hub for the region.

He said his government would develop the capacity of existing airports to increase transit capacity so that airlines could use the kingdom for making transit flights to neighbouring nations.

He noted that Thailand has many airports in both first-tier and second-tier provinces.

His government would improve the airports’ runways and passenger terminals, security measures and warehouse capacities so that air transport would make greater use of Thailand’s airports.

The government also has a plan to turn Thailand into home bases for both Thai and foreign airlines with the largest maintenance centre in the region, he said.

Logistics hub

Srettha said his government has comprehensive programmes to develop road, rail and aviation transport infrastructure so that Thailand would become the logistics hub of the region.

Apart from improving the capacity of airports, the government would expand both main and secondary roads around the country.

Among other things, the government would expand motorways by 10 times by 2050 from the current length of 250 kilometres to 2,500km.

The government would expand four-lane highways from the current 20,000km to 23,000km to link the borders with Myanmar and Laos in the North to Malaysia in the South.

The government would also expand the double-track railway by another 2,000km to 5,500km within 2030.

The length of electric railways in Bangkok and major provinces would also be expanded by two and half times to 700km.

Srettha said his government would also build a high-speed railway to link three major airports and to the Laem Chabang deep seaport to facilitate exports and imports. The high-speed railway would also be linked to China’s railway so that Thailand would be a logistics hub of the region.

Moreover, the government planned to build the southern land bridge to link the Andaman Sea and Gulf of Thailand to connect the eastern and western worlds.

Srettha added that his government would do away with bureaucratic red tape that affected importers and exporters and would instead provide them one-stop service.

Future mobility hub

Srettha said his government aimed to turn Thailand into the future mobility hub with a goal to draw foreign investments worth over 1 trillion baht.

He said the government had held talks with over 10 major auto manufacturers and they had agreed to invest over 150 billion baht in the kingdom.

“Thailand used to be called Detroit of Asia. Now, the auto industry is transforming into EV industry so Thailand will become a hub of future mobility,” Srettha said.

He said the local demand for electric vehicles was high and Thailand had high potential to serve as a manufacturing base of EVs for exports.

He said Thailand was ready in terms of supply chains who make parts, and work force as engineers and programmers.

He said his government would develop a comprehensive EV ecosystem to support the EV industry throughout the process from research to parts making, battery making, assembly and maintenance.

He added that the government would also support Japanese automakers, who have helped build up the Thai economy in the past, in the transition to EV industry.

Moreover, the government would also make preparations for future technologies, such as vehicles powered by hydrogen cells.

Digital economy hub

Srettha said his government would support the development of technology innovations and artificial intelligence and would provide investment privileges for high tech firms to open semiconductor factories or open data centres in Thailand to facilitate cloud computing.

The government would support AI research and promote its use.

Srettha said the government would also support deep tech firms to come to operate in Thailand via the “sandbox” model and by providing funding to support them.

The government would also facilitate matching funds to provide more investment funds for firms that are seen to have high tech potential.

Legal amendments would be carried out so foreign high tech firms could open offices in Thailand and could buy assets and the law would not inhibit the receipt and payment of salaries.

Srettha said the government would also support these deep tech firms to expand their investments to neighbouring countries and would also support Thai high-tech startups.

Financial hub

As the last element of his vision, Srettha said his government aimed to make Thailand the financial centre for Southeast Asia.

The government would develop a strong financial system and would attract world-class financial firms to invest in Thailand to establish the Asean Wall Street.

The government would also develop financial infrastructure by making use of blockchain technology and would unlock all digital asset rules so that digital assets could be linked to real assets.

The government would also develop a carbon credit trading system for sustainability, Srettha concluded.