The prime minister has urged the private sector to help drive the tourism industry towards high-quality, sustainable growth.
Speaking on the first day of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit 2017, Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday Thailand’s tourism sector has expanded rapidly for years to become a major source of the country’s revenue and economic growth, but quality is still a concern.
“There are several factors affecting global tourism, especially rules and regulations. Attendants should take this opportunity to discuss practical solutions that can help develop tourism to its full potential and make it last,” said Gen Prayut.
He said rapid changes in advanced digital technology have made Thailand a top travel destination, but the same technology could become a national security threat.
“Though advanced technology can enhance tourism competitiveness, people in the industry should focus more on quality tourism. We should have a screening system to ensure we attract quality travellers. This will genuinely benefit the country in the long term,” said Gen Prayut.
He said in recent years, despite challenges, the tourism industry grew 11%, generating 2.52 trillion baht in 2016. The industry contributed nearly 20% of the country’s GDP last year and employed nearly 6 million people, over 15% of total employment.
Tourism’s contribution to GDP is forecast to grow by 6.9% this year, rising by 6.5% per year over the next decade to 5.9 trillion baht, representing nearly one-third of the country’s GDP by 2027.
For the first quarter of 2017 Thailand earned tourism revenue of 734 billion baht, up 9% year-on-year, achieving its target. Second-quarter growth is projected at 11% to 630 billion baht.
Former UK prime minister David Cameron agreed the tourism sector can lead countries’ economic growth and is confident it could boost underdeveloped nations’ GDPs.
David Scowsill, president and chief executive of the WTTC, said Thailand’s strong travel and tourism growth is thanks to governmental support policies.
He said Thailand is an example of a country where its people and culture can make it become one of the world’s favourite tourist destinations.
“Thailand is projected to have the world’s tenth-fastest tourism sector growth over the next decade,” according to the latest WTTC report released yesterday.
The report says employment in the sector is estimated to rise by 6.9% in 2017 to 6.1 million jobs. Jobs in the sector are projected to increase by 4.6% per year to 9.6 million by 2027, creating 3.9 million new jobs over the period.
Travel and tourism is one of the most important engines to drive jobs and wealth in the world, contributing US$7.2 trillion to global GDP and supporting 284 million jobs, said the report.
The WTTC summit is an influential travel and tourism event, bringing together hundreds of leaders from public sector organisations and private sector companies to discuss important issues in the sector.
-The Bangkok Post