Chiang Mai and Hue but also Phu Quoc and the Thai coast could be linked in the near future as they share common cultural values and environment resources, explained recently Thailand Minister of Tourism Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul in an interview in Vietnam.
Thailand’s Minister of Tourism and Sports, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, declared in an interview with Vietnam News Agency that there is still room for Vietnam and Thailand to grow and attract tourists with different tourism purposes. She expressed her thought when visiting Hanoi to attend Thailand Cultural Days in the Vietnamese capital.
“As Viet Nam will host the ASEAN Beach Games in Da Nang by the end of September and there will be a seminar on sport tourism on its agenda, I think Thailand and Viet Nam can cooperate in this field,” indicated the Minister.
“ASEAN nowadays attracts great interest from people all over the world in terms of business, investment, and tourism. That’s why ASEAN connectivity is part of the programme that we launched last year. We are now presenting the ‘two countries – one destination’ package to tourists from America and Europe. If they want to go to Vietnam, they can come to Thailand and we will then facilitate their trip into Vietnam”, she explained. Very important has been Thailand’s policy to increase connectivity with its neighbours such as Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar. Roads, bridges over the Mekong, new flights have emerged over the last decade with more development to happen in the near future. “We already have tour packages for Thailand-Cambodia, Thailand-Laos, Thailand-Myanmar, and Thailand- Vietnam,” told Mrs. Wattanavrangkul.
Last year, the Tourism Administration of Thailand (TAT) America brought a group of tour operators and media from the US to Thailand and then to Halong Bay, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to explore the route. Another similar group will come back again in October to discover the route Thailand-Hanoi-Sapa-Lao Cai.
The Minister also mentioned about encouraging Intra-ASEAN travel. From that point of view, numbers are still deceiving between both countries. From the 29.8 million of international travellers welcomed by the Kingdom, 770,000 were Vietnamese travellers. However, the number of Thai travellers to Vietnam remains appalling: only 140,000 tourists from Thailand made the trip to their Eastern neighbour last year. “By encouraging ‘intra-ASEAN’ movements, we want Thai people to visit Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City but also other places such as Sapa or Hue,” said the Minister.
“In fact, we have discussed that we want to open the connectivity between Hue and Chiang Mai. We want to introduce Hue in Thailand and Chiang Mai to Vietnam”, she told. Thailand wants also to push the promotion of Phu Quoc Island in the south. “With Trat and Samui in Thailand, Phu Quoc in Viet Nam, and Sihanoukville in Cambodia, we can create a new interesting route for travellers,” the minister said.
Asked about problems that Thailand has to face while developing its tourism, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul explained that lessons can be taken from Thailand experience for other countries, including Vietnam.”When your tourism grows fast you tend to make light of something such as the environment and the identity of tourism. Those matters are common challenges for many countries,” she stressed.