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 and tourism industry.
Speaking at the Asia Pacific Digital Travel Forum, Suraphon Svetasreni, TAT governor, outlined how the agency has made good use of technology for everything from brand campaigns to promoting special deals to crisis management.
“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,” said the governor, adding, “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, 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). The Forum was designed to allow 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.
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 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.
He went on to note 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.”
The forum was also addressed by Ajin Jirachiefpattana, Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, who outlined Thailand’s broadband policy and plans for development of broadband services. He said the government’s goal was to ensure broadband network access for at least 80 percent of the population by 2015. Now only 33 percent of Thais have access to broadband.
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 spots nationwide.