Sunday 4 April 2010

Tourism Authority of Thailand -- 50 years of Amazing Growth

To celebrate TAT's 50th anniversary last week, around 300 travel media from the world were hosted on amazing famils around all and sundry parts of the Kingdom, and then -- perhaps by way of atonement -- shoehorned into a conference room to listen to messages under the banner of 'THAILAND: TODAY'S TRENDS, TOMORROW'S TOURISM'.

Governor of TAT Mr Suraphon Svetasreni outlined the humble origins of tourism in Thailand. Can you believe there were only 14 employees and 81,000 tourists when they started in 1960? Jing jing!  'Now there are over 1000 professionals and 14 million tourists,' he said.

If there was one discernible direction in his talk it was this: 'In the past, the focus was on maximising financial return, the next focus is on minimising ecological impact.'

He then handed over the podium to the Minister for Sport and Tourism, Mr Chumphol Silpa-archa who proudly noted that the Thai tourism and travel industry had been 'one of the success stories of the region, even globally.'

He boldly predicted a forecast of 15 to 15.5 million tourist arrivals for this year, which will pump 12.7 billion Euros (that's a lot in any currency!) into Thailand.

Three million Thais earn their livelihoods directly or indicrectly through tourism, he said. 'Spectacular growth has contributed to sustainable growth of many communities.'

There were also addresses on experiential tourism, luxury tourism, medical tourism and community-based tourism -- the latter two which I'll deal with in separate blogs soon, once I've digested the huge buffet lunch they put on for the media ... not to mention the grand dinner in the grounds of a beautiful downtown palace. Waiter another glass of Chateau Lafitte, please. Here's to the next amazing 50 years!

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