EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW TAT Governor Sees the Future of ASEAN Tourism in Increased Cooperation

Thailand, interview, strategy

Tourism Authority Governor Yuthasak Supasorn was present at the first edition of the Cambodia Travel Mart. He highlighted his vision over further cooperation of Thailand with its neighbours in an exclusive interview with ASEAN.travel.

The CTM has seen the signing of a new cooperation agreement between Cambodia and Myanmar to link promotion between Bagan and Angkor Wat. Is Thailand looking to have similar agreements with its neighbours?

Yuthasak Supasorn- Thailand actually has been among the first countries to have a policy of cooperation with its neighbours. Remember our “Two Kingdoms” promotion with Cambodia, including a common visa. While the latter has been more difficult to implement effectively, we see progress through the development of packages with Cambodia. We are also now developing tourism along a trail starting from Bangkok to Trat, Kampot, Kep and Phu Quoc. We also will develop packages promoting Chiang Mai and Mandalay in Myanmar together, as well as Nan with Luang Prabang in Laos.

Do you see further development in this tourism cooperation in initiative with your neighbours?

Y.S.- Further opportunities to development are currently being evaluated for more road connections and particularly for the establishment of new cruise routes. We are now in the process to establish a route linking Laem Chabang – our international cruise port located between Pattaya and Bangkok – to Koh Chang, Sihanoukville and Phu Quoc. There is rising interest for cruises along the Gulf of Siam and we are seriously working to make it happen. This development is part of the government’s strategy to boost economic activities along the “Southern Corridor”. We recently organized a fam trip to promote together Kampot/Kep/Sihanoukville with Trat and Chantaburi on the Thai side.We believe in cooperation as it will make this region more attractive for overseas travellers.

Some destinations in Thailand are getting increasingly crowded, especially with the rapid growth in arrivals from China. How does TAT try to help decongesting some Thai destinations?

Y.S.- It is true that a handful of destinations in the country welcome some 80% of all international arrivals to the country. We believe that destination tourism management is an efficient solution to balance the trend. We also push the promotion of secondary destinations to take some of the burden created by rising numbers of visitors on some destinations. We are, for example, promoting Lampang in the North as an alternative destination, and also Nakhon Si Thammarat in the South.

How about your new theme for the coming year?

Y.S.- Gastronomy will be the focus in 2018. We are working hard to turn Thailand into the capital of gastronomy by upgrading our offerings to international standards. The announcement of Michelin stars for Thailand on December 6 is one important event to show the rise of our country on the international food scene. We will particularly target China and Japan, as we want to bring more awareness from these markets towards a “gourmet holiday”.  We will also focus on highlighting local food. We already did a campaign towards domestic travellers two years ago. I think that international markets are now ready to totally embrace all the cuisines of Thailand.

Chiang Mai will welcome the ASEAN Travel Forum at the end of January . How does the show look so far?

Y.S.- So far, we have some 400 buyers from all over the world who will attend the event. I know that a third of all exhibitors will be from Thailand – equivalent to some 100 companies – while Singapore and Indonesia will be present with some 30 companies each, followed by Malaysia.