Tourists view the sea of mist from the peak of Aiyaweng viewpoint in Betong. (Photo by Pongphan Wongyala)
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Thailand is calling on the International Friendship Exchange Council of Japan (FEC), a powerful non-profit organisation with 1,000 large corporate and individual members, to help promote tourism in Thailand’s secondary tourism provinces.
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, who recently met Norio Yamaguchi, chairman of the FEC’s Japan-Asean Cultural and Economic Exchange Committee and former chairman of Ajinomoto Co, said the Thai government is willing to support the creation the new air routes linking Thailand’s second-tier provinces with Japan.
Tourism packages that include Thailand and a second or third neighbouring country should be introduced, said Mr Somkid.
“The government has been promoting tourism in 55 second-tier provinces to help generate more income for locals, as they offer high potential to develop the sector, similar to what Japan did for its second-tier prefectures,” he said.
“It would be helpful if the FEC helps promote tourism in those second-tier provinces of Thailand, while the Thai government pledges to encourage Thai visitors to visit second-tier tourism provinces in Japan.”
Thai visitors remain the majority of tourists in Thai second-tier provinces, with fewer foreign tourists.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand reported Thai visitors to second-tier tourism provinces totalled 83.7 million trips in 2018, up 4.9% from a year earlier, generating revenue of 231 billion baht, a gain of 9.38% from 2017.
The tourism industry will remain a main contributor to the Thai economy this year, with the number of foreign visitors expected to grow to 41 million this year from 38.3 million last year, generating 2.2 trillion baht, an increase of 10% from 2018.
Mr Yamaguchi said given Thailand’s economic expansion of 4.1% in 2018, Japan’s private sector remains confident in the country’s economic prospects and is still committed to business growth in Thailand.
He said Japan will work closely with Thailand to conclude the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership talks within this year.
In a related development, Mr Somkid also urged the FEC to attract educational institutes to establish branches in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), as education is one of 12 targeted industries in the EEC.
In his previous roadshow to Japan, Mr Somkid invited Tokyo University and Waseda University to establish branches in the EEC.