Thai tourism firms urged to look into Myanmar and Cambodia

Thai tourism and hospitality businesses are being urged to tap into Myanmar and Cambodia to cash in on growing tourism in the two neighbouring countries.

Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said Myanmar and Cambodia were in dire need of tourism-related investment and hospitality knowledge from Thailand to upgrade their tourism destinations.

Cambodia’s tourism minister recently approached the Thai ministry to bring Thai hotel developers to invest in luxury hotels in Siem Reap to serve Japanese tourists, she said.

Chinese investors have built major hotels in Siem Reap to serve mainly clients from China.

The Cambodian government wants to add more luxury hotels to serve quality markets such as Japan, Mrs Kobkarn said.

“Apart from tourism investment in Thailand, the Thai government sees it as essential to support Thai investors investing offshore, especially in Asean members,” she said.

“Personally, I see a lot of potential in Myanmar, especially in Kachin state, where it snows.”

Mrs Kobkarn said her ministry would take three or four tourism operators including Bangkok Airways to meet with Myanmar’s hotel and tourism minister as well as Myanmar businessmen this month.

The authorities and Thai business operators are also scheduled to survey potential attractions in Myeik in southern Myanmar, which has islands and coastline on the Andaman Sea. With virgin beaches and rich marine resources, Myeik has potential to grow, offering a blue ocean strategy for Thai investors, she said.

Apart from offshore investment support, the Tourism and Sports Ministry is also committed to cracking down on tour companies acting as nominees of foreign operators, especially in resort destinations such as Phuket, Pattaya and Chiang Mai.

Mrs Kobkarn said her ministry was working with the Department of Special Investigation, the Royal Thai Police and the Revenue Department to investigate 400 suspected nominee companies in Phuket. There are 7,000 total tour companies in Phuket.

She admitted efforts to tackle nominee issues had made little progress over the past 10 years due to a lack of cooperation.

Mrs Kobkarn said Thais must be more accountable and conscientious about the country, as more than 90% of Thai tour companies representing foreigners were properly registered.

An investigating committee has been formed to investigate nominee issues. Representatives of the local private sector including the Phuket Chamber of Commerce will join the panel.

If successful, she said the ministry would apply the Phuket model in other provinces, particularly Chiang Mai, which has started seeing business nominees for Chinese operators, Mrs Kobkarn added.


Source: Bangkok Post

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