The key announcements at the event, held at the Cape Sienna Phuket Hotel & Villas, Kamala Beach, last Friday (Dec 16), were 360-degree virtual tours of nearby islands and ramped up translation services.
“We’re delighted to bring some of Thailand’s most spectacular islands online,” said Michael Jittvanich, Head of Marketing, Google Thailand.
“As Thailand continues to be one of the world’s most sought-after tourism destinations, we’re happy to help provide local and international tourists with first glimpse of the beauty of this country on Street View. We hope that this new imagery encourages people from near and far to explore more of the wonders of Thailand’s South,” he added.
The Andaman island destinations now available for virtual tours via Street View or Google Maps on mobile platforms include the Similan Islands and a Moken sea gypsy village at the Surin Islands; Koh Tachai off the coast of Phang Nga; Koh Racha Yai south of Phuket and Koh Maithon to the west of Phuket, and the Koh Rok Yai and Koh Rok Noi islands off Krabi.
On show at the event was a surprisingly light backpack fitted with the full 360-degree cameras that made the “off-road” images possible.
“Thailand is one of the most popular travel destinations searched for through online search engines globally,” Mr Jittvanich explained.
“The next stage for tourism to the region is for tourists to venture to ‘unknown’ locations which are hard to get to. This is where digital mobile support steps in, and that is where Google becomes part of people planning their holidays,” he told The Phuket News.
In addition to main search Google App, along with Google Maps and Street View, helping visitors to plan their trips, find their way around once they get here and have search results provide quick links to restaurants, businesses and services in their immediate area, Google has ramped up its Google Translate service to help visitors to Phuket to delve deeper into their holiday experience, Saiyai Sakawee, Head of Public Relations, Google Thailand explained.
With Google Translate, travellers can speak into the app, or handwrite to input the language to be translated.
Also, now with Word Lens built in, the Google Translate app allows instant camera translations, for example from English to Thai.
Also updated is the Google Photos to app to help tourists organise and share their photos, Ms Saiyai added.
“We have updated these five applications, and these applications together support tourism and make travel to the region easier,” she said.
Also present at last Friday’s event was Plernpit Muenpon, Executive Director of the Information Technology Office at the Tourism of Thailand (TAT).
“Google is already part of our tourism plan. Everyone knows Google, so Google can lead people to seek out new destinations that they never knew of,” Ms Plernpit said.
“It is also a way for tourists to learn about traditions and culture for their trip before they get here,” she added.
On this note, Ms Plernpit pointed out that her office was continuously updating web service providers with information.
“We are working on improving tourism information to digital media all the time, and right now we have placed special focus on Chinese digital media, such as Baidu as well as the popular QQ [instant-messaging service] platform,” she said.
“We connect the Tourism of Thailand information with Chinese’s tourist media.” Ms Plernpit added.