BANGKOK, 17 June 2019: Travel executives took time out last Friday for a tourism history lesson but one with a difference.
The difference being it also looked forward to where Thailand’s travel industry was heading as it prepares to celebrate a 60-year journey in 2020.
Imtiaz Muqbil, the executive editor of Travel Impact Newswire, one of the longest-serving travel trade journalists resident in Thailand, presented insights into the country’s colourful tourism history billing it a curtain-raiser in the build-up to the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s 60th anniversary in 2020.
Over decades of reporting on Thailand’s tourism in a global context, Muqbil has accumulated volumes of documents, newspaper clippings and historical archives that map the peaks and troughs of the country’s path as a rising tourism star.
Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Yuthasak Supasorn endorsed the day-long event by bringing along a team of high-level TAT executives to attend the inaugural forum on “Thailand: The Greatest Story in Global Tourism.”
In a manner, the forum made history too. 2020 marks the anniversary of two pillars of Thailand’s tourism story. TAT and the national airline Thai Airways International both started the incredible journey to success in 1960.
Other participants at the forum included Siripakorn Chaewsamoot, deputy governor for policy and planning, TAT; Chutima Wongvibulsin, senior manager – marketing Support & Development, Meetings and Incentives Department, Thailand Conventions and Exhibitions Bureau; and Prof Nathsinee Chinthanapoompaisal, head of Tourism Management, Dusit Thani College.
The TAT governor has invited Muqbil to conduct a follow-up presentation at the annual TAT Marketing Activity Plan meeting that this year to be hosted in Udon Thani, 1 July.
Commenting on his “history of Thailand” series and the message embedded in milestones covering the 60 years, Muqbil told TTR Weekly: “Thailand tourism is a fascinating story of marketing triumphs and management failures, sex and corruption, health pandemics and natural disasters, political upheavals and economic collapse.”
Noting the country still attracts 40 million visitors a year, he said, the country’s tourism architects had a lot to be proud of and ashamed of at the same time.
“There are dozens of “futurists, thought-leaders and visionaries” running around these days, most of whom are full of crap,” he argued.
“The global travel and tourism industry needs to spend more time studying the lessons of history if it wants to create a better future for itself.
“I am proud to have set this new direction in motion in Thailand, a country that is by far The Greatest Story in Global Tourism HiSTORY,” he concluded.
As travel executives attending the presentation at the Anoma Hotel in Bangkok dispersed they took home a story that they can say with pride they have witnessed and participated in but they too will recognise the story is far from over.
Muqbil urged them to take the lessons of history and write new chapters that everyone can be proud to endorse over the decades to come.