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Good PR and a lifted curfew will make most visitors forget they’re visiting a military dictatorship that’s constantly on the brink of revolt.
The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has given the nod to the Tourism and Sports Ministry to seek an extra budget of more than 1 billion baht (US $35 million)to revive tourism and maintain the sector’s revenue target of 2 trillion baht this year and 2.2 trillion next year.
Navy chief Adm Narong Pipattanasai, who supervises the ministry, met permanent secretary Suwat Sidthilaw and other high-ranking officials on Thursday to discuss the tourism situation.
He said after the meeting that the restoration of confidence of foreign tourists is the first priority among all revival measures.
“We will quickly communicate with international travellers that Thailand is safe for them to visit,” he added.
The ministry will draft a proposal to seek the extra budget for tourism revival, while the process of budget approval will be shorter than normal.
The NCPO will consider reducing or even lifting the curfew period in major tourist destinations next week to help boost the atmosphere. The curfew now runs from midnight to 4am nationwide after previously being from 10pm to 5am.
The NCPO and the ministry will put all efforts into achieving the tourism revenue target of 2 trillion baht this year, with foreign tourist arrivals forecast at 26-27 million, down from 28 million predicted before the political crisis. The tourism revenue target next year is set at 2.2 trillion baht.
“We will try our best even though it’s very difficult to achieve the 2-trillion-baht target. What I can say now is we will comfortably generate at least 1.8 trillion baht in tourism revenue this year,” said Mr Suwat.
The ministry will next week propose a tourist confidence restoration plan under a budget of 845 million baht. It will ask for another 200 million to renew an insurance fund for foreign tourists injured in a crime here (up to US$10,000 compensation per person).
Mr Suwat said the ministry should first target the Asian market, particularly Chinese tourists who love to come to Thailand. The Tourism Authority of Thailand plans to organise familiarisation trips to Thailand for more than 1,000 journalists worldwide.
Apart from the confidence restoration and insurance plans, the ministry will discuss other measures with the NCPO next week, such as the stepping up of law enforcement by tourist police to help solve fraud aimed at tourists.