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Former Minister Asserts Thai Tourism Remains Unshaken

Published: July 5, 2023 at 6:16 pm

Suvarnabhumi International Airport

Former Thai Minister of Tourism and Sports, Weerasak Kowsurat, provided reassurance that political unrest is unlikely to dent Thailand’s tourism industry unless a repeat of the 2008 airport shutdown were to occur. The disruptive protest action saw a significant decrease in tourist arrivals, dealing a blow to the Thai tourism sector.

Senator Weerasak stressed that most tourists remain committed to their travel itineraries, provided political demonstrations don’t directly impede their plans. He observed tourists enjoying their vacations uninterrupted amidst street protests during his tenure as Minister, only expressing concern over major disruptions such as airport closures.

Highlighting the gravity of the 2008 airport shutdown, Weerasak recalled the economic chaos and severe damage to Thai tourism. The 10-day suspension of Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports resulted in a whopping financial loss of 200 billion Thai Baht.

He argued for the importance of contingency planning in case of political upheaval, especially in managing potential violence. Weerasak advised the future Tourism Minister to cultivate an open mindset, encourage diverse perspectives, and foster strong ties with corporations, local communities, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) alike.

With many operators seeking loans or financial assistance, Weerasak emphasized the crucial role of the incoming minister in ensuring the fair distribution of benefits to SMEs.

A firm believer in sustainable tourism, Weerasak proposed incorporating an environmental, social, and governance strategy to bolster Thai tourism on a grander scale.

At the annual Tourism Council of Thailand conference, Weerasak’s predecessor, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, advocated creating unique experiences to entice repeat tourists. She suggested hosting renowned international art exhibitions, such as Art Basel, to attract high-spending tourists, provide a platform for local artists, and further boost Thai tourism.

SOURCE: Thaiger

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