Thailand is to focus heavily on responsible travel in 2020, the country’s tourism chief has said.
Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) (AS700), said the theme would be its main marketing focus as it looks to spread the message of a more sustainable future.
“We do have a good rating when it comes to our global competitiveness, but the two problems we face are safety and security, and sustainability – we can at least focus on promoting the environment,” Supasorn said.
“We have to do something, both to protect our natural and cultural environment, and to enhance our global competitiveness.”
He didn’t rule out the possibility of bringing in a responsible tourism charter as a way of “getting everyone onboard”, similar to that of the Tiaki Promise of New Zealand, wherein tourists must pledge to be “good stewards of the environment during their trip”.
But he added “everyone in the value chain must be involved in the process – including the visitor, tour operator, hotel and tourist office in order for us to progress”.
Plastic and Styrofoam have been banned in all Thai national parks since last June, one of many measures Supasorn held up as an example of the quest for sustainability.
Tourism in Thailand has had a “difficult year” due to global economic uncertainty, the strength of the Thai baht and Brexit, he added.
“The year has not been as strong as expected; we’ve seen little growth,” said Supasorn.
There have been 39.8 million visitors in 2019, up from 38.2 million visitors last year, with the country set to hit 40 million by the end of the year.
“But actually, in relation to our population, that is a lot of tourists,” Supasorn added. “We have to now focus on steady net growth. I wouldn’t expect to see more than 5% annual growth from now on. We are about quality not quantity for Thailand now.”
TAT will celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2020 and Supasorn promised a “significant event” to mark the occasion, possibly a major conference in the middle of the year.