Thailand’s tangled tourism target

Tourist favourite: Many foreigners come to Thailand and take pictures of the chaotic utility poles with tangled electrical and telephone wires. — The Nation/ANN

THAILAND’S recent efforts to promote tourism have focused on offering special visas to foreigners interested in various aspects of soft power, among them learning Thai boxing, Thai culinary skills, and more.

Plans are underway to organise competitions for which participants will wear so-called Elephant Pants and traditional Phi Ta Khon ghost costumes.

There is even a push to make these activities a national policy and national agenda. But one has to question whether foreigners will travel to Thailand specifically to witness and participate in these competitions.

How do we proceed from here? What should be tackled first: economic recovery, the development of public infrastructure or building our image?

No doubt, many of these ideas are being driven by political motives and a desire to create activities that will achieve Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Staging various competitions and activities can lead to success in the short term, but improving public restrooms, maintaining the cleanliness of rivers and canals, and addressing homelessness might not yield visible results within a government’s term in office.

Foreigners come to Thailand and take pictures of the chaotic utility poles with tangled electrical and telephone wires.

Should we feel proud or should we feel something else?

There has been little visible change in this regard. Perhaps this image could be considered a part of Thailand’s soft power, something that international visitors will remember about their time in our country.

Concrete action is needed to address this issue. It’s easy to start something new, but fixing old problems can be challenging. Why, one might ask, has this problem not been resolved?

Is anyone willing to tackle it? Who will take the initiative, and who will be responsible?

We should consider doing something sustainable and beneficial before starting the process of creating an image.

Foreigners do not come to Thailand to compete in certain competitions. We are a nation with high potential in various areas yet there often seems to be something hindering the true beauty of our country.

If we allocate and manage resources effectively, addressing the issues that obscure our beauty, we can unveil our genuine splendour and attract foreigners to visit time and time again. — The Nation/ANN

Chandhit Sawangnate is from the Institute of Asian Studies.

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