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Infra development important to tourism growth: Thai official

INFRASTRUCTURE development can help the Philippines attract more tourists, a top tourism official from Thailand said Friday.

Phanom Kaributa, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) executive director for Asean South Asia and South Pacific Region department, said that what made Thailand the biggest draw of tourists in Asia are aggressive tourism promotions and improved infrastructure and tourism services.
 
He said that if the Philippines and other Asian countries do the same things, they will also have a surge in tourist arrivals.
 
“You have an advantage because you are an English-speaking nation. You also have nice and hospitable people but your country needs to develop infrastructure and service,” Kaributa said.
 
Problems
 
Infrastructure development has long been a concern among tourism players in Cebu.
 
Plantation Bay Resorts and Spa general manager Efren Belarmino said in a separate interview that aside from developing more products, the government should also address pressing problems on infrastructure, particularly road improvements. He said that although hotel resorts in Lapu-Lapu have enjoyed the boom in sports activities, bad roads that are causing traffic have inconvenienced tourists.
 
Kaributa said that when people go on vacation, they look for places that are safe with good tourism services like great food and leisure destinations. They also prefer places where people are hospitable, honest and friendly.
 
TAT officials were in Cebu for their promotional roadshow in the Philippines. This year, the organization will also visit Davao City, aside from Manila and Cebu.
 
Officials said the the objective of the roadshow is to promote Thailand to Filipinos in the hope of increasing Filipino arrival in Thailand by 13 percent this year.
 
According to TAT director Kanokkittika Kritwutikon, 288,000 Filipinos visited Thailand in 2012, up by 6.7 percent compared to the figure in 2011.
 
Although the Philippines is not included in Thailand’s top 10 travel markets, Kritwutikon said the country is an attractive market because of its proximity to Thailand, which is about three and 1/2 hours of travel time.
 
Target
 
“Hitting the 13 percent growth for Filipino arrivals is quite difficult that is why we need to join hands with the various travel agencies in the Philippines,” she said.
 
Thailand achieved a record-breaking visitor arrivals of 22 million for the first time last year. The figure is a 15.98 percent growth over 2011.
 
Six countries, five of which from Asia-Pacific region, logged more than one million annual visitor arrivals namely, Malaysia, China, Japan, Korea, India and Russia.
 
A strong growth is seen from China with projected arrivals of 2.7 million this year, surpassing Thailand’s top market, Malaysia, with only 2.5 million in projected arrivals.
 
TAT governor Suraphon Svetasreni said the primary contributor of the growth was the “prevalence of global, regional and local peace and stability.”
 
“Travel and tourism can only flourish worldwide if the underlying conditions that support it remain free of disturbance and disruption. That is one of the most important lessons for the entire industry to learn worldwide,” Svetasreni said.
 
Kaributa said Thailand has an influx of tourists every year because the country has a lot to offer in terms of food, culture, shopping, destination and entertainment. The country has also strengthened beauty, health and wellness and eco-tourism programs.
 
“You get your money’s worth in Thailand,” he said.
 
Not in competition
 
But despite Thailand’s progressive tourism industry, Kaributa said they are not in competition with the Philippines.
 
He said both countries can work together to lure more tourists to visit the Asean region.
 
By 2015 all 21 Asean economies will be integrated, creating a single market and distribution base with full economic integration.
 
“We are now becoming borderless with flow of human resources becoming seamless so countries, like Thailand and the Philippines, should work together as one Asean nation and should not consider each other as competitors,” he said.
 
TAT is confident of increasing tourism arrivals of Thailand to 24.5 million this year, with a projected tourism income of 1,149 billion baht.
 
(Source: Sun Star)
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Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)