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A rush of tourist emphasizes Thailand, SE Asia News & Top Stories
BLOOMBERG (BANGKOK) - In early June, a little minke caught worldwide eye after picking up plastics and packages, and then passed away in the south of Thailand. This was not a good sight for the country's tourist industries. Thailand's Minister of Commerce Weerasak Kowsurat is holding up a photo framed with parts of an immediate pasta package that has been retrieved from the whale's belly.
It is symbolic of the ecological and other stress of a booming tourist industry that could reach 40 million foreigners in 2019 - more than half of the country's people. "Mr. Weerasak, 52, said in an interviewer in his Thai capitol offices that the tourist industry can generate and at the same inconvenience.
" An increase in the number of holiday-makers in China has fuelled the expansion of the tourist industry, which now makes up around 20 percent of the second-largest country in Southeast Asia. Overcoming the influx is a challenge, highlighted by a disaster last weeks, which brought security to the fore after more than 40 Chinas were killed when a ship sunk off the Phuket shore.
This catastrophe has had no significant effect on China's holiday excitement in Thailand, but the Thai authorities must be pro-active to avoid major damage, said Mr Thongyoo Suphavittayakorn, a spokesperson for the Association of Thai Travel Agencies. When asked if Thailand is now approaching its tourist potential, Mr Weerasak said:
" He wants to encourage less frequented places in the state to fight the strain on favourite travel sites and reduce differences in levels of incomes. It has been shut down by the local government for four month to give the islands enough rest period to recuperate from ecological damages such as reef corals and garbage on the beach due to continuous tourism.
"Increasing tourist flows are already having a very noticeable impact on Thailand's oceans and coasts," said Eike Schoenig, executive manager of the maritime environmental group Corea, in an email. "Only a few are successful in dealing with bulk tourists. "Thailand's tourist secretary is proposing the installation of a pure booking system to check the number of people visiting the coves.
They will be obliged to moor at the back of the cove, so that there will be only one point of access for visitors. Thailand's army regime is also considering introducing a tourist health care system to avoid any unprotected tourist arrivals and ending up as a drain on the state if they get into difficulties, he said.
In spite of the problems, however, the tourist industry will continue to be an important driver for Thailand, where the economy is growing faster but lagging behind some of its neighbours. Goverment figures show that next year's revenues for overseas visitors are estimated to be well over USD 60 billion (USD 82 billion) and that expenditure will continue to focus mainly on large towns.
Thailand's state-owned airports are planning to increase capacities in Bangkok and in the tourism-oriented areas of Phuket and Chiang Mai by the billion euro mark.