Thai tourism leaders back immediate, unrestricted reopening of Thailand

Thailand’s tourism leaders have come together to sign the Thailand Tourism Pledge towards charting a strong and sustainable path out of the global pandemic.

Together, these leaders committed to forging a new strategic direction for Thailand, including placing tourism at the forefront of the national economy, putting the service sector back to work, achieving sustainable growth, and making international visitors feel safe and secure.

(From left) C9 Hotelworks’ Bill Barnett; Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau’s Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya; Minor International’s Bill Heinecke; Asset World Corporation’s Stephan Vanden Auweele; Proud Group’s Proudputh Liptapanlop; Dusit International’s Boon Kwee Lim; S Hotels & Resorts’ Dirk De Cuyper; Hilton Asia Pacific’s Clarence Tan; and Thailand Hotel Association’s Marisa Sukosol

The Thailand Tourism Pledge will lay the foundations upon which Thai tourism can be rebuilt from the ground up, following the travel freeze and pandemic.

The Pledge materialised at the 11th Thailand Tourism Forum (TTF 2022) on March 1, an event that ran under the theme #ThaiTourismUnited.

There was a clear call by all leaders at the event that it was time the country fully reopen to tourism.

Proudputh Liptapanlop, executive director of Proud Group, which owns numerous tourism assets including two InterContinental branded hotels in Hua Hin and Phuket, said: “We need to open up. We need everyone to understand that we need to open up the country for their good and for the benefit of the country.”

Bill Heinecke, chairman/founder of Minor International, said: “If we don’t open up, we can’t be competitive. Currently the rules are just too complicated. We are not even 10 per cent of where we were pre-Covid and Thailand will not reach her target of 10 million arrivals in 2022. We are falling behind. We are not even keeping up with our neighbours.”

Marisa Sukosol, president of Thailand Hotels Association, emphasised that reopening Thailand was no longer a choice. She urged the government to quit the Test & Go programme and “move our mentality from a pandemic to an endemic”.

TTF 2022 kicked off with a series of addresses, debates and discussions to help attendees devise strategies to survive and thrive in the post-pandemic era.

Bill Barnett, managing director of C9 Hotelworks, said the in-person TTF 2022 at Conrad Bangkok was a signal for travel and tourism to restart.

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