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 August 21, 2001
Tourism Master Plan Delivered To The Tourism Authority Of Thailand

 The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has taken delivery of a new master plan from the World Tourism Organization (WTO) designed to help chart a course for a new era of sustainable tourism development. Along with the work already being done by the Thailand Development Research Institute and TAT itself, the WTO plan will become an intrinsic part of directions to be set by Thailand's 9th National Economic and Social Development Plan (NESDP) 2002-2006. The plan was prepared with funding from the UN Development Programme. In accepting the official document, TAT Chairman and Minister to the Prime Minister's Office, H.E. Mr. Somsak Thepsutin thanked both the WTO and UNDP for their involvement. "We are certain that the findings and conclusions of the master plan will play an important role in ensuring the sustainability of our tourism product," the minister said. As per the terms of reference set by TAT, the WTO plan is a "complete blueprint for the development of the tourism sector wit the roles of the public and private sector clearly specified, Government policies and strategies streamlined and a framework for development to ensure that tourism is economically viable, financially profitable, environmentally sustainable and socio-culturally acceptable."

The plan stresses the significant role that tourism plays in the Thai economy as well as the impact of the East Asian financial crisis of 1997-1998. It also notes that tourism has become a global phenomena, marked by keen competition amongst countries world-wide.

In looking to the future, the plan says, Thailand will need new policy and strategic endeavours to ensure equitable distribution of tourism's economic benefits to the more remote areas of the country, generation of additional employment, regional development and enhanced contribution to national income, are to be taken into account.

The plan "should assist TAT in redefining Thailand's national tourism policy, reposition the image of the country as a tourism destination and provide guidelines for sustainable tourism development." The WTO consultants who prepared the plan complimented Thailand's response to changes in global and regional tourism trends, especially the effectiveness of the 'Amazing Thailand' marketing campaign. "In a region short of success stories in the past few years, Thailand is the exception," the report notes. It also compliments the pricing policies of the hoteliers, TAT's support for small and medium scale tourism enterprises through electronic commerce and the importance of the domestic tourism market.

The report adds, "Despite these admirable responses to rapidly changing global and regional operating environments, there are a number of issues that must be addressed if Thailand is to build on its past initiatives. "These include evolving its successful brand image to attract not only a wider range of international tourists, but also with the objective of getting them to spend more whilst in Thailand. However, wider range of tourism markets is going to require a more diversified range of tourism products."

The plan stresses that "the public at large, and the industry in particular, must be made aware of the need to conserve and manage the cultural and natural resources of Thailand. Failure to do so could result in socio-cultural breakdowns and environmental degradations. "Responsibilities should be clearly recognised, accepted and implemented. Failure to do so could result in the successful initiatives adopted to-date being dissipated through unplanned and unregulated over-development. Such an outcome could undermine the success of the 'Amazing Thailand' campaigns and prevent a more equable distribution of the benefits of tourism, especially amongst the rural communities."

The plan also notes these aims and objectives are largely interdependent and need to be pursued through a balanced and complementary course of action. This policy seeks to strike a compromise between being broad enough to cover all areas of interest and focussed enough to provide clear direction on important issues.