WITH THAILAND BEING such a popular traveler’s destination, it might seem strange to suggest that they’re worrying about a decrease of tourists. But that is the reality as visitors have shied from traveling there due to the recent political crisis and last year’s economic downturn.
From July 12 – 19, I was a guest of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), as part of what they called the “Thailand Today” Mega Fam* trip. I was actually only one of 500 writers, bloggers, and PR media in attendance. In addition to addressing the political situation, the event was held to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the TAT and Thai Airways International, both founded in 1960.
The trip started with a massive welcome dinner at which there was entertainment and a speech from the Thai Minister of Tourism and Sports, Mr. Chumphol Silpa-archa. The overriding message of the night, iterated a few times throughout, was summed up by TAT Governor Mr. Suraphon Svetasreni:
We want to show the world that our country has returned to normal and is safe for visitors.
And from what I saw during my week there, that sentiment is pretty accurate. Not just in the hospitality and friendliness of the hosts at each of our accommodations and activities, but from the Thai people on the street, in the markets, and in the rice paddies.
*Fam = Familiarization