Global tourism authorities say Thailand remains a safe tourist destination
Thai authorities and global tourism bodies have today stepped forward to reassure the world that Thailand remains a welcoming tourist destination, saying the recent explosion incidents in Bangkok will inevitably have short-term impacts and that the kingdom’s tourism industry will bounce back strongly and quickly towards the end of the year.
The message of assurance and confidence was raised during this morning’s press conference organised by Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports and presented by representatives from the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), the Tourist Police Division, the United Nations’ World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). The event was held at the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok Hotel.H.E. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports said, “We intentionally use this hotel as it is located next to the Erawan Shrine to reassure our confidence. I am deeply sorry for what has happened, but I do believe that the impact from this tragic incident will be short term and that Thailand will bounce back very quickly thanks to good friendships of our friends. The UNWTO and WTTC have taken immediate actions to reaffirm their confidence in Thailand through international media. My special thanks to Australian Prime Minister, Mr. Tony Abbott, who urged his fellow citizens to continue to travel here and all friends of Thailand from across the globe who insisted via social media on visiting Thailand no matter what.”
H.E. Kobkarn expressed her confidence that the target of 28.8 million tourist arrivals and 2.2 trillion Baht revenue, including 1.4 trillion Baht from international tourists, will be achieved based on the booking trend in the remaining months the year and the significant growth in the tourism performance in the first half of this year.
Mr. Carlos Vogeler, UNWTO’s Executive Secretary of Member Relations said, “I would like to convey our heartfelt condolences to the affected people, and reiterate our support to the people of Thailand. Thailand has a long tradition of being a hospitable and welcoming country and we fully believe it will continue to be so.”
Through discussions with Thailand Ministry of Tourism and Sports, UNWTO has lined up a number of supports for the Thai tourism industry, starting with Mr. Vogeler’s presence at today’s press conference as a short-term action to reiterate that “Thailand is not alone.” In the next steps, UNWTO Secretary-General, Mr. Taleb Rifai, is to pay a visit to Thailand to further reaffirming the confidence in the kingdom while H.E. Kobkarn will be invited to deliver a message from Thailand at some of UNWTO’s meetings this year. In addition, Thailand has been chosen as the host country for the World Tourism Day 2016 which is scheduled on 27 September, 2016. “All these actions and directions show our solidarity to reiterate that Thailand has our full support,” Mr. Vogeler concluded.
Mr. David Scowsill, WTTC’s President and CEO said, “It is highly regrettable that Thailand, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, has been the target of this violence. Fortunately, Thailand has shown its resilience in the past from national disasters and other disruptions, and we hope that the situation will stabilise and return to normal very quickly.”
Mr. Areepong Bhoocha-oom, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Tourism and Sports said prior to the 17 August’s incident, Suvarnabhumi Airport recorded around 85,000 arrivals per day. He said the number was expected to fluctuate within these couple of weeks, pointing out as “not a significant drop,” and that the figure is still higher than last year.
Going forward, Thailand is set to further strengthen security measure as prevention approach to ensure safety and security for the locals and tourists.
Colonel Winthai Suvaree, Spokesman of the NCPO, said “In the initial response, security and safety measures have been heightened through increased presence of security forces at destinations and venues popular with tourists or densely populated. Extra security, including strict checks of security measures at venues, has also been in place to address any loopholes and ensure proper management of these measures in a systematic manner.’
Police Colonel Supaset Chokchai, Deputy National Commander of the Tourist Police Division said, “Increased security and safety measures have been in place at all key tourists areas across the country. In Bangkok alone, there are 1,600 military personnel and 2,400 police officers providing 24 hours security for locals and tourists in all precincts under 48 police stations.”
H.E. Kobkarn concluded, “I’d like to convey my heartfelt appreciation to the unity of the Thai people. In crisis, all Thai rises up, extends a helping hand, and are united in their promises to carry out the tasks of assisting our affected friends until the very end, until the last injured tourist is sent home. In crisis, there are many unknown angels who come together not only for short term but also for medium and long term to counter any issues as this is Our Home, Our Country, Stronger Together.”
Thailand welcomed the 20 millionth visitors on 26 August 2015. For this year, TAT has set a target of 1.4 trillion Baht tourism income for the Thai economy.