Democrat MP Tossaporn Thepabutra said this week that he will meet with the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports to urge the ministry to raise its target for the number of foreign tourists visiting Thailand in 2011.
The ministry is targeting 16.5 million visitors this year but Mr Tossaporn said that number is too low. He believes Thailand can host as many as 18 million.
“About 15.8 million foreign tourists visited Thailand last year, which was an 11.9-per-cent increase on 2009, despite the fact that the country faced many problems from the global economic situation and internal politics,” Mr Tossapon said.
“The only factor that may have an impact on the number of foreign tourists visiting Thailand is the Middle East conflicts but these will not have a huge impact because, so far, there are not a lot of tourists from the Middle East visiting the country.
“Now that the world economy is improving, I see no reason we cannot put up the number of tourists. I think the target should be 18 million,” he said.
Mr Tossaporn said that the economies of many countries in Asia have improved, and Thailand should try to build new tourism markets in these countries.
“Setting the target higher will also stimulate all agencies concerned to focus on their work; every organization must work harder and devise better strategies to attract tourists from other countries where the economy has improved, such as the neighboring countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, or even the Philippines.
“Thailand should take advantage of the upcoming ITB event [in Berlin] to promote tourism more. I am sure that if everyone works harder, we can reach this target [of 18 million] this year,” he said.
Mr Tossaporn noted that the domestic tourism figures are good, with increasing numbers of Thais traveling with their family at weekends and visiting other provinces during festivals.