Minister Phiphat headlined a meeting at Phuket Boat Lagoon this afternoon to hear first-hand from hotel and tourism operators their primary concerns, namely the plunge in the growth in the number of tourism arrivals, especially from Mainland China.
Present at the meeting were Phuket Governor Phakaphong Tavipatana and key tourism figures, including marine tourism operators as well as former Phuket Senator Tunyaratt Achariyachai, who for years has sat on the Senate Standing Committee for Tourism, and Bhuritt Maswongssa, General Manager of the Patong Resort Hotel and key member Tourism Development Committee of South Andaman Tourism Development Area under the Ministry of Tourism and Sports.
Mr Phiphat explained at the meeting that his visit to hear about the obstacles to growth from tourism operators themselves.
“Then we can coordinate the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to resolve these problems and drive the tourism industry to achieve and be effective because the service sector and tourism are the main sectors that will bring money into the country,” he said.
“The government aims in the next two years to have income from tourism account for 30% of GDP. Therefore, all ministries that are involved in tourism must help to find ways and strive to make the tourism business truly strong and sustainable,” he said.
Following the meeting, Mr Phiphat told the press, “From visiting the Phuket area today, overall, we must admit that Phuket is not as sluggish as has been talked about by some parties.
“It is a little slow, but not as bad as some news reports, especially regarding Chinese tourists, and now there are more Indian tourists traveling to Phuket,” he said.
“Data from Phuket International Airport reports that more chartered aircraft are coming,” he added.
“The Ministry of Tourism is ready to support tourism in Phuket and the Andaman region and develop it so that the tourism industry operates fully 365 days a year, with no high season or low season,” Mr Phipat said.
Mr Phipat pointed out the government’s efforts to expand the marine facilities to accommodate large tourist boats and cruise ships.
“So Phuket becomes a sea tourism hub with tourist routes from Phuket to Penang, Malacca and Singapore then return (to Thailand) to Songkhla and Pattaya, which is a popular tourist route,” he said.
“This will make Thailand benefit from tourism both on the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand,” he added.
“Thailand is ready for this opportunity, to take care of the safety of life and property of tourists, and ready to welcome tourists to travel to Thailand throughout the year,” he added.
Following the meeting at Phuket Boat Lagoon, Minister Phipat travelled to Karon Stadium to officiate the opening of the 13th Kata Karon Cup seven-a-side football tournament.
He also stopped by at Patong Beach to meet and talk with lifeguards there, and to watch a surf rescue demonstration.