Thailand is still Amazing

A four-member delegation led by the Advisor to the Minister of Tourism and Sports – Mr. Korkij Danchaivichit visited UNWTO’s Headquarters on 14 February 2011. This was a follow-up to the visit of the Secretary-General to Bangkok last July with the main purpose of rendering UNWTO’s support and solidarity with the Government of Thailand in the aftermath of the socio-political disturbances that impacted negatively on tourist flow during the second quarter of 2010.

Tourism plays a significant role in the economic development of Thailand – a country that has been promoting tourism for nearly fifty years and has consolidated itself as a major destination for millions of people. It is a major source of foreign exchange, job creation, wages, and government revenues. The significance of the tourism sector to the Thai economy and its overall contribution to the country’s present and future socio- economic development thus need not be overemphasized.

Secretary-General Taleb Rifai praised Thailand for the remarkable 12% growth in its international tourist arrivals in 2010. This performance is all the more impressive in light of the unfavourable environment that surrounded Thai tourism in the recent past. Rifai expressed satisfaction with the Organization’s modest contribution to this achievement attributable to the Special Meeting on International Solidarity with Thai Tourism which UNWTO organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and PATA at the beginning of July last year.

In order to maintain this growth momentum, Rifai assured the delegation of UNWTO’s readiness to assist Thailand in its promotional endeavours and the training of its tourism officials. Thai tourism should also capitalise on mega events such as the forthcoming celebration of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 84th birthday to maintain itself in the international tourism spotlight. Product diversification is another strategy Thailand could use to revitalise its tourism industry to ensure that it compete effectively with strong neighbours such as Singapore, Malaysia and China.

The Thai Tourism Minister’s Advisor concurred with the Secretary-General’s evaluation of the positive impact of UNWTO’s expression of solidarity with Thai tourism in its crisis moments. He further underlined the importance of resolving national issues through international collaboration. Korkij also informed the Secretary-General that the main purpose of their visit was to express Thailand’s strong commitment to UNWTO’s activities and show their appreciation for the Organization’s continued support of Thailand’s tourism industry.