Speech by H.E. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul Minister of Tourism and Sports At Thailand Networking Lunch, WTM 2016 Excel, London, UK Monday, 7 November 2016, 11.30-13.30 Hrs. (10 Minutes)
Sawasdee kha, good afternoon, distinguished guests,
Members of the media, ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports of Thailand, I would like to welcome you to today’s Networking Lunch and thank you for taking the time to be with us.
Firstly, I would like to share with you that His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej was one of the most remarkable personalities not only for the Thai people, but also for the world. Leading organisations; such as, the UN, UNESCO, as well as top world leaders, have paid tribute to honour him as the King of Sustainable Development.
Although this is a challenging time for Thai citizens, we have encouraged everyone in all sectors to stay strong and perform their duties as best as they can. The nation must continue to move ahead in line with His Majesty’s strong determination to see our Kingdom be prosperous.
Life in Thailand goes on …. with the strong intention to follow in the King’s Footsteps. Now it is Thailand’s …. Sharing Period.
During his 70-year reign, His Majesty the King tirelessly promoted rural development and helped improve the lives of poor people across Thailand. His Majesty’s achievements include successful integrated rural development projects in Northern Thailand that have helped to significantly reduce the production of opium harvests through crop substitution.
Now some of these Royally-initiated Projects are open for tourists to see for themselves the accomplishments of the various developments made over the years. These include:
- Doi Tung Development Project, Chiang Rai
This aims at elevating the quality of life and conserving the arts, culture and traditions of the hill tribes and Northern Thais.
- Royal Agricultural Station Angkhang, Chiang Mai
This has transformed from being a mountain of opium to one of the most beautiful and attractive winter crops agricultural centres.
- Chang Hua Man Royal Project, Phetchaburi
One of the Royal Initiative Projects, which is a centre of industrial crops, as well as developing and promoting agricultural careers.
Thailand Tourism Situation
Ladies and gentlemen,
Now I would like to update you on Thailand’s tourism situation.
Between 1 January to 22 October, 2016, Thailand welcomed 26.4 million international tourists, up nearly 12 percent (11.82%), generating around 26.5 billion Pounds (1.31 trillion Baht), an increase of around 16 percent (15.59%).
The top five tourism spending countries are China, Malaysia, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
From 1-22 October, the number of international visitors rose by 4 percent to over 1.6 million, generating income of 1.7 billion Pounds (82.22 million Baht), up by about 8 percent (7.8%) over the previous year.
At the end of 2016, we expect to reach 35 billion Pounds (1.72 trillion Baht) in tourism receipts.
Current Situation in Thailand: Business as usual
Although most Thai people are in black clothing as a display of the reverence to our King and as part of Thai culture, this is not required for tourists. Wearing sombre and respectful clothing in public would be highly appreciated. If tourists would like to take part in showing respect to our King, a black ribbon can be worn.
The Royal Thai Government has announced that even as the mourning period remains in place, businesses can continue to operate as usual, and entertainment will resume in Thailand from 14 November, 2016.
- Tourism, sports and MICE events: No matter whether they are cultural, religious, sports, MICE events, or festivals, they can continue but adjusted as a mark of respect to the King.
- Nationwide Loi Krathong will be going on, especially in Chiang Mai, Sukhothai, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Tak, and Bangkok. Tourists can continue to experience the traditional culture of the Loi Krathong Festival.
- The New Year Countdown, Chinese New Year, Thai New Year or Songkran, and the Thailand Tourism Festival are all going on.
Thailand as a sports destination
Thailand is positioning itself as a destination for sports tourism by promoting the kingdom’s world-class sporting facilities, and building its reputation for hosting successful regional and international sporting events and tournaments.
So, I would like to invite you to enjoy some of the many opportunities the kingdom can offer sports-loving tourists.
We have numerous international sports events coming up including:
- Air Race One (U-Tapao Naval Air Base, 19-20 November, 2016)
- Phuket Laguna Marathon (20, November, 2016)
- Princess’s Cup (Bangkok, 25-27 November, 2016)
- 2016 IRONMAN 70.3 Thailand (Phuket 27 November, 2016)
- Jet Ski World Cup (Pattaya, 3-6 December, 2016)
- Phuket King’s Cup Regatta (3-10 December, 2016)
- Chiang Mai Marathon (18 December, 2016)
- Bangkok Marathon (5 February, 2017)
As for medical tourism, the Ministry of Public Health is running a ‘Visit Thailand Enhance Your Healthy Life’ campaign that began in September 2016, with an offer of a special package for international tourists. It mainly comprises three packages: a health check-up and dental services covering all ages in the family as well as a fertility treatment. Travellers can enjoy their holiday while taking the programmes arranged by the 54 JCI-accredited participating hospitals in major destinations. For more details about medical tourism, please visit www.thailandmedicalhub.net.
In order to promote Thailand as a medical and wellness tourism hub, TAT has also joined significant world medical trade events; such as, the International Medical Travel Exhibition and Conference (IMTEC) 2016 in the U.A.E. along with organising the Amazing Thailand Health and Wellness Road Show in Oman and Kuwait to generate prospective business between suppliers and travel agents.
Moreover, TAT has collaborated with Thai Airways International to publicise Thailand as a medical hub through in-flight entertainment and magazines as well as informed TAT overseas offices to introduce medical and wellness programmes to their agents.
Safety & security
Safety and security is always our top priority, especially for the upcoming high season. Our Tourist Police nationwide as well as the 1155 Call Centre is always available to facilitate tourists who require any assistance.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Life continues to go on, and Thailand will be even stronger with the determination to follow in His Majesty the King’s Footsteps to attain Tourism Sustainability.
The UK market will continue to play a prominent role in our inbound tourism. As such, we would like to invite all tourists to experience the “Unique Thai Local Experiences”, which the Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand will tell you more in a few minutes.
Thank you very much for joining us and for your ongoing support. Sawasdee kha.