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Thailand government eyeing luxury tourists

Posted : 30 March 2016 01:45:20 | By TWO Bureau | Bangkok

Thailand government eyeing luxury tourists

The Thai government needs to do more to keep the country's tourists safe if they wants to achieve the objective of attracting more high-end travelers, tour operators speculation, or it risks losing out to its up-and-coming neighbors.

With its palm-fringed beaches, Buddhist culture and happening nightlife, Thailand has been the model for Asian tourism for decades, attracting a range of visitors from backpackers and adventurers, to families and culture aimd tourists.

In recent years, increasing numbers of Chinese tourists have joined the mix. But dark clouds could be forming even as a record 32 million tourists are expected this year.

The industry, which accounts for 10 percent of gross domestic product, has been resilient to political unrest over the last decade in reaction to violent street protests and military coups.

A bomb attack in 2015 on a Bangkok shrine popular with tourists. But crime and accidents, and the perception of Thailand is becoming a mass market, could pose a bigger threat to the government's plan.

Two British tourists being murdered in 2014 which hit front pages around the world. This month, two French women filed complaints of rape.

Dismal road safety, accidents of water transport, scams and even angry elephants have added to seemingly a barrage of bad news.

"Visitor volume is high but with that the probability of crime also increases," Surapong Techaruwichit, chairman of the Hotel Association of Thailand said.

"We need to reassure tourists that Thailand is safe."

The government's Tourism Authority now concentrating on "quality tourism", and has launched a campaign to attract visitors who spend more.

"Many people say tourists come here because it is a cheap destination. This needs to change," Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul told a tourist safety workshop last week.

But luring more high-end travelers might not be easy.

"If we want to attract the high end we need to reassure them. Meeting our target luxury-traveller target will be harder after the recent negative publicity," said Surapong.

Fourteen U.S. citizens died of unnatural causes in Thailand from the months of January - June in 2015, higher than the 11 who died in France, a top destination for U.S. tourists, according to U.S. State Department figures.

Thailand had the second-highest number of deaths of British nationals in 2014 after Spain, which is the top holiday spot for Britons, British Foreign Office figures show.

Major General Surachet Hakphan, commander of the Tourist Police, says things will change. The men and women in his division will focus on safety, he said.

Tags : Thailand, Thailand government, luxury torists, tourists, Buddhist, culture, tourists, tourism, travellers, Bangkok, asian tourism, tour operators, americans, British, luxury travellers, visitors

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