Napasorn Kakai: Innovative thinking to develop tourism market

(#wanderlusttips #Thailandtourism) “Success in tourism promotion requires innovative thinking in market development,” Ms. Napasorn Kakai – Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand has shared with Wanderlust Tips Magazine her point of view about tourism market development in an open interview.

Can you please share with us the contribution of the tourism industry to Thailand’s economy? What are the areas the Thai tourism industry is currently focusing on?

Wanderlust Tips Magazine | Napasorn Kakai: Innovative thinking to develop tourism market

The tourism industry plays an important role in Thailand’s economy. Thus, we always encourage tourism development, especially in supporting fields such as infrastructure, transport, hotels, travel services, tourism human resources, and of course increase the market share and always promote a positive image of Thailand’s tourism. Currently, revenue from the tourism industry is high and can help to develop other areas in our country.

Currently, Thailand focuses on trans-regional tourism, encouraging Southerners to explore the Northern mountainous areas or Northeast of Thailand, and encouraging Northerners to visit beaches in the South. This way, Thai people can experience new things and exchange knowledge, bringing a balance to each area.

For Vietnamese travellers, in addition to popular stops such as Bangkok and Pattaya, we want to introduce new destinations such as the Northern mountains (Khao Yai, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai) and the Southern sea (Hua Hin and Phuket). This can help travellers fully experience the beauty of Thailand in different regions.

In the context of tourism development along with other countries in Southeast Asia, how will Thailand’s tourism be structured to achieve both class and a unique identity?

Tourism development and tourism in Southeast Asian countries require international co-operation across all sectors. This means transport sectors such as airways, roadways and waterways working together to create a unique international journey, such as “one destination in three countries”. In addition, visa issuance, co-operation in developing human resources and promotion of tourism information are also important.

What do you think are the traits that make Thailand a popular destination? Is it the scenery, the culture, cuisine or other specialised tourism products?

Wanderlust Tips Magazine | Napasorn Kakai: Innovative thinking to develop tourism market

In addition to the beauty of our natural landscapes, traditional culture, cuisine and tourism products, another thing that impresses tourists the most is Thai people’s charm, friendliness, and willingness to help others. These traits help Thailand attract a growing number of visitors every year.

Thailand tourism has cleverly planned tourism programs specialised for women, and even set the trend for medical tourism. In your assessment, does this set Thailand tourism apart and attract different types of tourists?

Success in tourism promotion requires innovative thinking in market development. This includes dividing the mass of visitors into smaller targeted groups, which eases market access and promotion of tourism images.

Women are an important audience group, especially working women and families. According to our research, women are the key deciders when it comes to visiting a new destination to spice up their life experiences.

On the other hand, people pay more attention to their health and shape. Tourism combined with healthcare can improve one’s health and help them recover quicker. This is a great opportunity to develop the medical tourism market.

Why did Thailand choose the tough measure of closing several beaches? Did this affect the growth of Thailand’s tourism?

The Thai government places a special importance on sustainable tourism development, hence the need to take measures such as re-planning beaches. Now, some only open to tourists seasonally such as Surin island or Similan island, which are world-famous diving sites. Every year, these islands will be closed for six months during rainy season, allowing nature to recover and sustain its eternal beauty

Tourism, like everything else, has both good and bad sides. A large flood of tourists into the country can lead to problems such as damaged natural resources, more littering, polluted water sources and increased crime rates. In popular tourism destinations in the world, it’s common to hear about tourists getting attacked or robbed. When problems like this happen in Thailand, relevant agencies will co-operate to provide relief. For examples, the Tourism Authority of Thailand will provide support and care for the victims and the Thai police departments will conduct investigations. We have also issued warnings about potentially dangerous areas for tourists.

Vietnam tourism also faces similar security problems. I, myself, have experienced this problem when I came to welcome a Thai celebrity at Tan Son Nhat Airport in May 2016, and I was pick-pocketed. Despite having come to the police with video evidence of the crime recorded by journalists, they have yet to find the thief. We can see that problems like this exist in every country and need to be solved.

Wanderlust Tips Magazine | Napasorn Kakai: Innovative thinking to develop tourism market

Bangkok Airways and Vietnam Airlines recently opened a direct route between Danang and Bangkok. How do you assess the potential of a beach tourism exchange between our two countries?

We believe this is very good news. The direct flight connecting central Vietnam and Thailand can boost tourism between the two countries. Danang has great tourism potential, as tourists can easily access world heritage sites like Hoi An or Hue. The Tourism Authority of Thailand has participated in the Beach-Leisure & M.I.C.E Travel Mart (BMTM), where we helped connect tourism businesses from the two countries and promote tourism co-operation.

Media in Thailand has commented that Vietnam tourism is a rising star in the ASEAN region. How does this affect Thailand’s competitive development strategy with Vietnam?

Vietnam is indeed a rising star of the tourism industry in the region. Thailand is delighted that Vietnam has put an emphasis on developing tourism and has become a strong tourism partner of ours. The ASEAN countries including Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand can co-operate to exchange information and attract tourists to the region, which can greatly benefit all countries.

How do you assess Vietnam’s exploitation of its potentials to develop the tourism industry?

Vietnam has diverse natural resources and many cultural heritages, which are key tourism resources that attract tourists from around the world. In addition, Vietnam will need balanced development in all areas to achieve sustainable tourism. In modern times, people always seek uniqueness, things that they cannot see at home, or natural beauty untouched by human civilization.

Development of tourism products needs to intricately consider both the old and the new, maintaining old traditional values and adding new elements to attract tourists.

Can you share with us in detail some co-operation plans between Thailand and Vietnam in the tourism industry in the coming future?

In the near future, some developments of tourism co-operation between our two countries are:

  • The exchange of information and knowledge about the two tourism markets.
  • Inviting representatives from tourism companies and the press to experience tourism destinations, helping them connect for future co-operation, and promote tourism images of the two countries.
  • Educational exchanges in the tourism and hospitality sector: Thailand has many renowned leading education centres in the fields of hospitality and tourism.
  • Opening new air routes between Thailand and Vietnam, with the newest charter flight from Ho Chi Minh to Phuket.
  • Promote transportation via roadways, an important trend in the future.

Thank you very much, we wish you all the best and we hope that the co-operation in all areas between our two countries achieves great success in the future.

Trang Nguyen | Wanderlust Tips | Cinet

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