BANGKOK, 10 May 2013: Thailand’s tourism industry needs to clamp down on so-called ghost guides according to Association of Thai Travel Agents president, Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, who warns there are now more illegal guides working with tourists from China, Russia and South Korea than ever before and the development is tarnishing the country’s tourism image.
The term ghost guides was coined by Thailand’s travel industry to describe guides who have no fixed home-base, no qualifications or endorsement from the Department of Tourism to work as guides. They are often associated with scams, tours that hop from one shop to the next and in some instances serious crimes against tourists. They have haunted the trade for decades and are accused of spoiling the reputation of qualified guide who take the time to graduate from official training courses.
“There are insufficient professional tour guides in the main source markets and this has prompted an increase in the so-called ghost tour guides particularly dealing with visitors from Asia and Russia,” he said.
BANGKOK, 10 May 2013: Department of Tourism, under the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, has set aside Bt80 million budget to improve road signs at tourist destinations nationwide to prepare for the introduction of the ASEAN Economic Community in late 2015.
The tourism department general director, Anuparp Kasornsuwan, said the budget would be used to renovate signs and ensure they are in both English and Thai. He confirmed that Chinese would be the next language to be added to all tourist-relates signs.
In addition, in town close to borders signs will also be in Laotian, Burmese or Yawi languages (South Thailand).
“We have to make sure on we have signs in languages that are applicable to the location that will assist the most tourists visiting the area.”
Towns throughout Thailand have started to change signs to both Thai and English to prepare for AEC 2015.
In the far north, Chiang Rai province has already completed the renovation of most of its street and lane signs that are now in three languages; Thai, English and Chinese throughout the town. Street signs in districts throughout the province will a little longer but authorities want to have the project completed by the time the new Mekong River Friendship Bridge linking Chiang Khong in Thailand and Huay Xai in Laos opens this July.
BANGKOK, 29 April 2013: Ministry of Tourism and Sports reported, last week, 5,721,485 Thais travelled overseas in 2012 representing an increase of 6.01% over 5,397,248 trips in 2011.
Ministry data showed that Malaysia continued to be the most popular destination driven by short overland trips from southern provinces to destinations in northern Malaysia mainly for shopping and trade.
Trips to Malaysia in 2012 reached 1,919,708 growing 6.54% from 1,801,883 trips in 2011.
BANGKOK, 18 April 2013: Ministry of Tourism and Sports says it will work on a tourism roadmap to balance tourist arrivals with the government’s tourism revenue target of Bt2 trillion by 2015.
The ministry spokesperson, Watchara Kannikar, said the master plan was being worked on urgently so it could be presented to the Cabinet 30 April.
His statement came as a surprise as it gives the ministry less than two weeks to complete the master plan, although it is likely much of the detail has already been prepared by the ministry in earlier documents or research.
BANGKOK, 18 April 2013: Association of Domestic Travel urges Tourism and Sports Minister Somsak Phurisrisak to concentrate more on domestic tourism and support tour operators, particularly SME travel agencies, to achieve a balance between domestic and international travel revenue.
ADT president, Yutthachai Soonthronrattanavate, said the new tourism minister should pay more attention to domestic tourism as it would help to circulate revenue throughout the country and improve the economy in all provinces, not just destinations serving international tourists.
“Today, domestic tourism can generate revenue which is very close to the revenue earned from international markets… the revenue ratio between the two is 47: 53. Domestic tourism generates Bt400,000 million a year compared to the international market at Bt500,000 million. ”
BANGKOK, 17 April 2013: Thailand’s tourism expert claims the kingdom can handle 40 million international tourists a year if all service structures are developed properly.
But the Ministry of Tourism and Sports cautioned that 26 million a year was a more realistic target to cap tourist arrivals.
Ministry permanent secretary Suwat Sidthilaw said tourists arrivals should be capped at around 25 to 26 million a year. High-end tourism should account for 30% and mass tourism about 70%. Currently, the ratio is 20% to 80%.
BANGKOK, 17 April 2013: Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports reported, late last week, arrivals to Thailand soared 18% during January to March to record 6.8 million trips.
For the first three months of this year, the kingdom attracted 6,828,718 international visits improving 18.94% from 5,741,454 visits during the same period last year.
In March, there were 2,259,237 international trips growing 19.19% compared to 1,895,560 during the same month in 2012. All regions except the Middle East reported gains.
BANGKOK, 9 April 2013: Tourism Council of Thailand has urged the new Tourism and Sports Minister, Somsak Phurisrisak, to concentrate on upgrading tourism’s human resources in the lead-up to the ASEAN Economic Community due to start December 2015.
TCT president, Piyaman Tejapaibul, said the council needs the tourism minister to follow up any projects approved by the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board’s Joint Public and Private Sector Consultative Committee to move the tourism industry forward.
“In addition, personnel skills in the hotel industry need to be improved. English skills have been identified as a priority. We need to train 100,000 employees a year over three years up from 50,000.”
BANGKOK, 5 April 2013: Tourism and Sports Minister, Somsak Phurisrisak, has identified safety as a top priority task at the ministry to regain travel confidence.
The minister said safety is now the top concern for the government to ensure Thailand is perceived as a safe destination to visit.
In the past, the travel industry failed to recognise that safety was an integral part of delivering a quality tourism product. It focused on delivering quality hotels, land tours and airline travel and tended to sweep under the carpet failures to match these components with safe passage.
BANGKOK, 4 April 2013: The Thai Cabinet named Somsak Phurisrisak as the new tourism and sports minister, whose appointment was later endorsed by His Majesty the King on Tuesday.
The government’s selection came as no surprise. Mr Somsak was tipped as the top candidate to fill the vacant post after Deputy Prime Minister and Tourism and Sports Minister, Chumpol Silpa-archa, died 21 January.
Mr Somsak was the Suphan Buri governor until he retired, 30 September 2012, but worked closely with Chat Thai Pattana chief advisory, Banharn Silpa-archa.