Deputy PM Anutin Seeks To Attract High-Spending Tourists

On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul called on tour operators to focus on high-spending tourists to promote Thailand as a top tourist destination and boost the country’s value.

Speaking at Thailand Moving Together tourism-promoting event at Suvarnabhumi airport, Mr. Anutin said that local hotels, companies and private hospitals should refrain from offering deep discounts to attract foreign travelers.

According to the latest official reports, Thailand has welcomed around 2 million foreign visitors in this year’s first two quarters after lifting complex and expensive entry requirements.

While the figure shows a steady recovery after Covid-19 and strict restrictions hit the tourism industry for two years, tour operators should strive to promote Thailand as a high-value destination, Mr. Anutin insisted.

“We cannot let people come to Thailand and stay because it’s cheap,” he said.

Echoing Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn’s comments, the deputy prime minister added: “Instead they should say ‘because it works, it’s reasonable’, that’s where we can increase value.”

Mr. Anutin also compared the proposed tourism approach to the business strategy of luxury fashion brand Louis Vuitton, which focuses on the high-end market and sells high-quality products at high prices.

“Hold your ground. Sell premium. The more expensive, the more customers. Otherwise Louis Vuitton wouldn’t have any sales,” he explained.

Thailand has remained among the first destinations of international tourists visiting Asia over the years.

In 2019, before the pandemic forced most countries to close their borders, almost 40 million visitors came to the kingdom. They spent around 1.91 million baht, which is equivalent to over 11% of the gross domestic product.

However, the country saw a slump in international arrivals in 2020, logging just 6.7 million amid the health crisis. A year later, when the second Covid-19 wave hit the world, Thailand only received 428,000 foreign visitors.

Now that the government has lifted the strictest measures, experts forecast that 10 million international travelers will arrive in Thailand. But other measures are needed to attract more tourists, as the predicted numbers remain well below pre-pandemic levels.

Earlier this year, authorities launched a long-term visa program for wealthy foreigners and skilled workers. A plan to attract high-spending visitors is also in place to increase tourism-related income.