The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has called for stronger regional partnerships to promote connectivity and harness the forces of technology to improve the ASEAN travel & tourism industry. Speaking at the Asia Pacific Digital Travel Forum the end of last month, TAT Governor Mr. Suraphon Svetasreni outlined how the TAT has made good use of rapidly-changing technology for everything from brand campaigns to promoting special deals to crisis management.
Said the Governor, “As the world heads towards increased digitization, the TAT will remain a strong advocate of the research, development and implementation of digital tools and technologies at both the national level and at the individual business level. We also have a strong focus on gaining insights of future trends in the travel industry.”
His message was directed at the more than 200 participants of the Asia Pacific Digital Travel Forum, which was organised by the Tourism Technology Association (TTA) with the support of the TAT, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports Thailand, and the ASEAN Tourism Association (ASEANTA).
Described by TTA president Mr. Apichai Sakulsureeyadej as the first of its kind to be held in Thailand, the Forum was designed as an opportunity for both the public and private sectors to come up to speed with the policies, plans and products impacting in the rapidly-changing world of technology.
Governor Suraphon said, “This is an important step in gaining a common understanding to create solutions for the tourism industry which will lead our region to become the tourism destination of the world. The ASEAN Economic Community, or AEC, will soon go into full effect. Thailand, through the TAT, has taken up the task of being Chair of the Marketing Sub-Committee for the ASEAN region.
“We accepted this position and responsibility because we know we have the right tools, resources, and personnel to lead the ASEAN community. This also means that our think tank has to keep abreast of technologies that can be applied to market the ASEAN Tourism industries and not just Thailand. What we would like to see is the cultivation of partnership among countries within the region through increased connectivity using technology,” he added.
Mr. Suraphon noted the impact the digital era is having on the travel industry, from facilitating bookings, to making decisions, writing online reviews, sharing information, upgrading professionalism, conducting research, and much more.
“The Internet has changed consumer behavior in many ways, especially for people who travel. We see dynamic changes in the way people buy their travel products, the destinations they chose, the amount of time they have to travel and the amount of money they spend. We are monitoring all these changes closely and adjusting our strategies accordingly.
“Indeed, the TAT has been using digital marketing to promote Thai tourism for many years, and we will continue to tap into a wider pool of travelers through social networks, online games, mobile and the applications,” said Governor Suraphon.
The forum was also addressed by Mr. Ajin Jirachiefpattana of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, who outlined Thailand’s National Broadband Policy and plans for development of broadband services. He said the Royal Thai government’s goal was to ensure broadband network access for at least 80% of the population by 2015 and at least 95% by 2020. As of this year, only 33 % of total Thai population has access to broadband.
Mr. Ajin also said that plans were underway for the two state-owned telecommunications corporations, TOT Public Company Limited and CAT Telecom Public Company Limited, to provide free Wi-Fi for 20,000 hot spots at public areas. These will be expanded within the next five years to 250,000 free Wi-Fi hot spots nationwide.