Ayutthaya will be promoted based on the success of the ‘Love Destiny’ soap opera. Jetjaras Na Ranong

The public and private sectors are set to launch new initiatives to make Thailand a more desirable tourism destination and pave the way for sustainable development.

New initiatives include Mice incentives, Mekong River packages, food-based promotions and local “homestay” programmes with Thai hosts.

Meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (Mice) is an emerging sector to help reinforce the economy, said Chanin Donavanik, chairman of the Tourism Sector Working Committee.

He said the panel is working in collaboration with the Pracha Rat (“People’s State”) project as a form of public-private collaboration.

Such evens will be promoted in the folksinging nine cities: Bangkok, Khon Kaen, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Phuket, Chiang Rai, Surat Thani, Hat Yai and Phitsanulok.

“Half of [those] cities are located in secondary provinces and we hope the Pracha Rat project will help draw businesses to less popular destinations,” Mr Chanin said.

He added that the working group is now working on a master plan for two new projects running under the banner of Neramit Ayutthaya (Invent Ayutthaya), which will promote the former capital.

“We will also capitalise on the success of Love Destiny by encouraging international tourists to visit these areas,” he said, referring to a TV drama series currently taking Thailand by storm.

Over the longer term, the government should develop Ayutthaya along the lines of Japan’s Kyoto, known for its historic wooden castles, bamboo forests and Shinto shrines, he added.

Mekong Region Tourism is also in the pipeline, a project aimed at boosting cross-border tourism in Southeast Asia and injecting more tourist baht into Thailand’s Northeast, Mr Chanin said.

He said the government would be well-advised to build a new airport or increase the capacities at current gateways.

“If we don’t prepare for greater accessibility by air we’ll encounter some major headaches over the next three years,” Mr Chanin said.

Kalin Sarasin, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the working group will endorse a new shopping stimulus scheme called “Downtown VAT Fund for Tourists” this month.

In the initial stage, tourists will be able to claim tax refunds at major downtown malls including Siam Paragon, Central World, Central Chidlom, Robinson Sukhumvit and Emporium.

The working group also aims to organise a so-called Thai Host Project. Many elderly people have reportedly expressed interest in joining the scheme.

The government also said it will enhance safety and security measures so tourists have more confidence traveling the length and breadth of the country.

The working group will continue to develop digital databases of tourism information to provide most updated details on hotels, local attractions and tourism services, it said.

Meanwhile, Amazing Thai Taste and several street food projects have been created to promote seasonal fruits and other foods, it added.

The former has helped catapult the revenue earned from sales of food, fruit and souvenirs from 450 billion baht in 2015 to 590 billion baht in 2017, officials said.

This has increased the proportion of food-derived income to total tourist revenue from 18% three years ago to 21.1% in 2017, they added.

“Over 1,000 local shops and entrepreneurs are considering joining this project,” Mr Kalin said.

Finally, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) plans to organise a Thai Food Festival from June 7-10 at Siam Square.

Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat said the public and private sectors have been working together well while the ministry is restructuring.

News Reporter

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