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Thailand to follow Japan’s example and spread tourism load around country, says transport minister

Udon Thani

Two just-announced initiatives will see visitors being spread through Thailand’s smaller cities by adopting a Japanese model of tourism development, transport minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith announced this week.

Speaking at the ‘Thailand Moving Forward: ASEAN Single Aviation Market Leader 2018’ seminar, Termpittayapaisith discussed more regional connections with secondary airports in each country. The minister said he would see the issue was discussed at the ASEAN Transport Ministers Meeting, which Thailand will host later this year, the NNT News agency reported.

Thailand has already raised the issue with government minister and senior officials ahead of on the ASEAN meeting – a sign of the importance Bangkok attaches to it. “This year will be the first time Asean airlines focus on secondary cities,” Termpittayapaisith said according to one local newspaper.

Khun Termpittayapaisith said the ministry would promote secondary cities including Khon Kaen and Udon Thani in the northeast; Krabi, Ranong, Chumphon and Samui in the South; and Mae Sot in Eastern Thailand, to become aviation hubs, according to local press.

Termpittayapaisath’s move is significant as tourism authorities in Thailand have long promoted second cities as good destinations but have been held back by the lack of direct airlinks – which is now being tackled.  Thailand hopes to follow Japan’s example when it liberalised its aviation sector and tourism flourished.

“We are trying to help local government with their pain points”

Another initiative, the MoU on City Development, plans to help move visitors into new areas by helping private sector groups work with local governments to tackle problems such as transport, garbage waste and low GDP, one of its signatories told Travel Daily.

“We are trying to help local government with their pain points,” Pornarit Chounchaisit, president of the Thai Real Estate Association (TREA), a signatory of the MOU, told us.

Cities mentioned in the MOU signed recently in Rayong include Phuket and Songkhla in the south of the country, Rayong and Chonburi in the East, Saraburi in Central Thailand as well as Chiang Mai, Udon Thani, and Phitsanulok in the North, Chounchaisit said.

Other cities such as Ubon Ratchathani in Eastern Thailand are expected to join later, he added.

Chumphon

Phitsanulok is reliant on unstable agricultural prices but its local attractions – among them Three Colours Rivers where three different rivers merge could be used to develop tourism, said Chounchaisit. The knack lies in bundling that with other attractions nearby of which Phitsanulok has two options.

“They should accumulate attractions along the river. This will help tourism industry,” said Chounchaisit. The other option is to join with Sukhothai famous for its Loy Kratong celebrations he added.

Songkhla

This strategy is very popular in Japan where it has helped move tourism into smaller cities and helped its tourism numbers surge as well as reboot sometimes declining rural communities. Hotels have signaled support for the initiative.

“We would be happy to support this in whatever practical way it helps us with issues for the destination,” Anthony Lark, President of the Phuket Hotels Association which represents the GMs of 70 hotels on the island, told Travel Daily mentioning waste, traffic and transportation.

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