Led by the Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, Tanasak Patimapragorn, a delegation from the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Tourism and Sports and Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in the country from June 7-10 for the Thailand – Bhutan festival. Kuensel’s Dechen Tshomo spoke to the governor of Tourism Authority of Thailand Yuthasak Supasorn about the festival.
1. What is the purpose of the delegation’s visit?
The Thai delegation is in the country to attend the first Thailand-Bhutan festival that will be held at the Bhutan Youth Development Fund’s multipurpose hall in Thimphu from June 9 to 11. The festival is organised to celebrate the friendship and goodwill between the two kingdoms.
We are also here to promote mutual cooperation between the two countries. A memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will also be signed between Tourism Authority of Thailand and Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) to promote tourism in the two kingdoms. There is already a minute of meetings signed between the representatives of TAT and TCB. The signing of the MoU will formalise the agreement.
2. How do you see the relation between both the countries?
We have many things in common. I can feel the warmth of the Bhutanese people and that is one thing common between the two countries. We can extend our relationships to many areas. We have cooperated in many areas and the MoU is the starting point to further diplomatic relation between the two countries. TAT in particular provides many project and initiatives for Bhutanese like human resource development in terms of marketing for TCB. We want to exchange the experiences in order to sustain the growth of the tourism industry in Bhutan.
3. What makes Thailand a popular destination to tourists?
Hospitality is the key factor. We develop products that serve a variety of needs to many people around the world. Food is one. We have more than 6,000 hotels so that is the potential people can access Thailand. We welcome anyone wanting to visit Thailand.
4. How many Bhutanese visit Thailand and how many Thais visit Bhutan every year?
About 22,000 Bhutanese visit Thailand and some 4,000 Thai tourists visit Bhutan every year. Both countries can work together on how to increase the number of tourists visiting both the countries. Most Bhutanese come to Thailand for leisure and some for medical reason. We want to increase the number of Bhutanese coming to Thailand because Bhutanese are one of the potential customers in tourism.
5. How can Thailand and Bhutan work together in promoting tourism?
We want to change the perception of the people about Thailand. People perceive Thailand as a cheap destination. We want people to see our country as a quality leisure destination. We want people to not only see the places in Thailand but also explore and experience the country like locals.
For instance, Thai boxing is becoming popular as an exercise and those interested in Thai boxing can practice. If we serve the tourists’ needs and make their stay a beautiful experience, then people will spend more in the country. This is what we are focusing now.
Thailand is pleased to help Bhutan and Bhutan can learn from Thailand’s experiences. Small is beautiful and Bhutan doesn’t need mass people to visit the country. The most important is how to keep your tradition alive, the way of your life alive and preserve your beautiful landscape. Tourism is good but is also has bad effect on the people. We want high volume but low negative impact on the people.