BANGKOK, 13 July 2017: A country’s tourism rises and falls on its reputation and also on what research identifies as its emotional connection, or how international travellers relate to and perceive a destination.
Apparently Thailand has plenty in the positive emotional connection department, according to the 2017 Country RepTrax study, released last week, but it needs to work on its overall reputation index.
Reputation Institution established in 1997 has been tracking the reputation score of 55 top GDP countries worldwide for the last 12 years.
The nearest Asian contender is Japan in 12th place, followed by Singapore in the 20th slot, both enjoying the light green shade of a robust reputation.
Despite its shortcoming highlighted constantly by the international media, the Thailand brand is not far behind Singapore. Placed 22nd, Thailand is high up in the yellow band that signifies a moderate reputation. It performed better than Malaysia at 28th, Indonesia at 33rd and the Philippines at 34th.
On an even more positive note, Thailand’s emotional connection score improved by around 5% to reach 65%, indicating it enjoyed more positive awareness than indicated in its overall score.
In contrast, the UK and the US both suffered negative emotional disconnect this year blamed on Brexit uncertainty and the presence of Donald Trump in the White House.
The message for Thailand suggests that if it gets security and safety issues sorted it could move up into the light green category and share reputation parity with the likes of Singapore and Japan. Tough task, but doable.
It would require a change of mind-set nationally to clean up corruption and introduce an environment of transparency and good governance. Safety and the rule of law are key factors that lift the reputation rating and as it rises a country gains in high-value tourism.