Thailand reiterates strong commitment to sustainable tourism development
Thailand’s Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, has become the latest head of state to join the Global Leaders for Tourism Campaign, a joint UNWTO / World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) initiative aimed at rallying support for tourism among world leaders (Bangkok, Thailand, 2 May 2012).
"The stance of the Thai Government towards tourism is one of strong support, as evidenced by the announcement of 2012 as the Miracle Year of Amazing Thailand," said Prime Minister Shinawatra. "In this regard, we need to focus on the needs of tourists and leave them with the best possible impression. We need to make sure that relevant infrastructure for hotels and restaurants is in place, as well as advancing in other areas such as visa facilitation."
Presenting the Prime Minister with an Open Letter on the importance of tourism to global growth and development, Mr. Rifai praised the Government for its commitment to the tourism sector, particularly in times of crisis.
"The Thai Government has been a strong advocate of tourism for years," said Mr. Rifai. "A direct result of this support has been the phenomenal rise of Thailand up the tourism league tables. Today, despite the challenges of the past few years, Thailand remains one of the world’s most-visited and attractive destinations."
David Scowsill, President & CEO of WTTC said: "Thailand has shown incredible resilience in the face of natural disasters over the last few years and has repeatedly demonstrated that it is able to re-invent itself while remaining true to its deep cultural history. "
"Domestic tourism has also risen in the past decades, as well as various forms of niche tourism that cater to various markets, reflecting dynamism and adaptability as well as a huge recognition of the role tourism plays in the economy. In 2011, Travel & Tourism supported 4.4million jobs which is over 11% of total employment; and also contributed THB 1,735.5bn to the economy, that is 16.3% of total GDP. This commitment of leadership to advancing Thailand’s deeply cultural Travel & Tourism industry is enriched by the signing of the Open Letter." WTTC Members from Lebua Hotels & Resorts, Deepak Ohri and Rattawadee Bualert were also present at the meeting.
The meeting with the Prime Minister was held ahead of the 24th Joint Meeting of the UNWTO Commission for East Asia and the Pacific and the UNWTO Commission for South Asia (3-5 May, Chiang Mai, Thailand) during which senior tourism officials debated how to ensure the sustainability of their fast-growing tourism markets.
According to UNWTO’s long-term forecast, Tourism Towards 2030, international tourist arrivals to Asia and the Pacific will increase from 204 million in 2010 to 535 million in 2030. As a result, the region will receive a 30% share of the world’s international tourists by 2030. Thailand is an excellent example of the "dynamism of the region", said Mr. Rifai, having received 19 million international tourists and earning US$ 26 billion in international tourism receipts in 2011.
A High-Level Regional Conference on Green Tourism was held as part of the Commission, to present national experiences on how, if properly planned and managed, tourism can be one of the most promising drivers of sustainable socio-economic development in Asia and the Pacific.
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