PM asks TAT for a game plan

PM asks TAT for a game plan

Thailand's Prime Minister, Abisit Vejjajiva, told travel agents, yesterday, the Tourism Authority of Thailand has two weeks to present a revised marketing and public relations strategy.

He assured travel agents the government would not neglect the industry and was prepared to ease rules to allow more companies to apply for low-interest loans.

Speaking to 1,000 representatives from the travel industry, gathered at the Dusit Thani Hotel, the Prime Minister said he had ordered the Tourism Authority of Thailand to present a revised marketing and public relations strategy within two weeks to stimulate recovery in the fourth quarter.

No.1 InsideYesterday's event was organised by the Federation of Thai Travel Associations, which has challenged the government to reveal a concrete plan to revive tourism and assist travel related companies.

"In the circumstances, we may not be able to spend billions on advertising projects," Mr Abisit told the audience. "But we should be looking at specific channels such as local media in specific overseas markets that can help us target growth.

"We also need to co-operate with overseas governments, or overseas airline alliances, to sign MoUs to jointly improve tourist arrivals."

Mr Abisit said the country should be able to "attract at least 11 million arrivals, based on the report from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, which showed 5.6 million arrivals in the first five months of this year."

He believes the second half of the year will perform better, a view reflected by private sector associations that claim the last quarter could see substantial gains.

The TAT had earlier estimated 2009 could generate 14 million arrivals.

"The government will not overlook the travel industry's problem and will follow up all policies and measures that have been set out with reference to tourism," the Prime Minister promised.

He also acknowledged that rules for applying for a SME loan may need to be eased dramatically to allow more companies to benefit.

"We have discussed with the Minister of Finance, Kobsak Sapavasu, and financial institutions to relax rules for tourism related companies, especially for those that have been running into difficulties since the airports closed last year."

He reported that around 3,000 companies applied for a special Bt5 million loan. So far, financial institutions has accepted 1,700 applications and approved loans for 1,000 applications, while 300 companies have already taken the loan.

"We cannot count on a miracle that the economy will just suddenly revive, but the government will support tour operators in every way, to make sure they are competitive and ready to act when the global economy revives."

Executives attending the event were members of Fetta which represents eight travel associations: Association of Thai Travel Agents; Thai Hotels Association; Thai Travel Agents Association; Association of Domestic Travel; Thai Ecotourism and Adventure Travel Association; Thai Transport Operators Association; Thai-Japan Tourist Association; and Thai Chinese Tourism Alliance.