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Does TAT have the right approach when marketing Thailand?

When the Governor of TAT announced he expects a 10% rise in Thai Tourism in 2020, and that the Thai brand is all about “responsibility and quality”. Some people including myself thought this was a bit of an oxymoron.

Surely being responsible is not over-tourism and having to wait 3 hours to get through customs at Bangkok airports. Surely a better approach would be to look at the Singapore and Hong Kong model that limits the amount of people who are allowed to enter per day. This would stop over-crowding at airports in Thailand and would truly be a “responsible” approach.

For those of you who do not know what TAT stands for, it is the Tourism Authority of Thailand and is part of the Ministry of Sports and Tourism in Thailand. Many people think that TAT is now outdated and should be rebranded like Visit Singapore or Visit Britain and become a separate entity with limited outside interference. Having a more global outlook will give TAT a better understanding of international markets and how they can actually preserve Thailand for future generations.

The Thailand I remember from when I first came 20 years ago is almost unrecognisable to the Thailand of today and not in some cases for the better. The latest destruction of a beautiful colonial building of the former British Embassy in central Bangkok highlights my point. The protection of China Town and the Old Town in Phuket Town is a start but more needs to be done and fast.

If we look at the policy and marketing plan on the TAT website it says nothing about conservation or renovation of key cultural sites. It mentions it wants to attract quality niche tourism but without some internal long term strategy it will not be able to do this. As most travellers are now looking for culture, heritage or adventure, this involves a long term protection strategy.

If there is no long term strategy in place I fear that TAT are just going for the short term Chinese shopping market. This however will effect other markets looking for something different. With countries like Vietnam and Bali (Indonesia) upping their game recently TAT needs to change its long term strategy rather than just thinking of short term yearly revenue projections.

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