The global COVID-19 pandemic has decimated the tourism sector on which Thailand is so dependent and has provided an opportunity for authorities to reset their approach and reevaluate their strategy, according to Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.
Minister Phiphat told Bloomberg News the sector had become overly reliant on Chinese groups and backpackers and would instead be targeting more affluent individuals who crave holidays with minimal risks.
Minister Phiphat confirmed the government is working in collaboration with the travel industry to profile and target individuals from a specific demographic such as previous visitors to high-end luxury resorts in places such as Phuket, Phangan, Phi Phi and Samui.
Phuket in particular is “a prototype” due to the island possessing all the relevant facilities required.
The northern hemisphere winter months of November-February are the ideal time to attract vistors, Minister Phiphat said, particularly from Europe, Scandinavia and the US.
“One person can easily spend as much as five by staying at the finest hotels,” he said.
The target is 10 million foreign arrivals this year, which is a quarter of last year’s total. Revenue from tourism is estimated to be B1.23 trillion, a 59% decrease on 2019.
Minister Phiphat added that the pandemic has provided an opportunity to remedy issues and problems that were prevalent prior to the shutdown such as environmental destruction and mass tourim creating over-crowding at beaches, temples and major tourist spots.
“If we don’t use this chance to create the most benefit for the industry, Thailand will lose out,” he said. “This is an opportunity to reset the entire tourism system.”