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Thailand focuses on international, but needs domestic tourism


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With Covid-19 closing borders for more than a year, the damage from losing international tourism has revealed a major weakness in Thailand’s overall tourism strategy. With up to 18% of the country’s GDP brought in by tourism, the disproportionate dependence on foreign travellers and lack of attention to domestic tourism has ravaged the industry and the national economy. Thailand had enjoyed a booming international tourist market, with up to 40 million foreign travellers arriving each year in the country and spending trillions of baht. But many fear now that it was to the detriment of a healthy domestic tourism market. […]

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I believe the lack of domestic tourism is largely due to the legacy left by years of largely cheap thrill-seeking international tourism. Besides a few beautiful and formerly unspoiled beaches and scores of Buddhist wats and icons to tour around, what did the international tourists come flocking into Thailand for? Yes, you got it in one … it was the country's infamous sex industry, its appropriately titled 'sex-tourism' that paved the way for go-go pubs - thousands of them - and walking streets. Who thinks for one minute that this legacy could attract domestic tourists to visit Pattaya, let's say, or Bangkok, even?

To the domestic holiday seeker, the go-go bar-cluttered walking streets will be a sure turn-off. Would a decent family want to walk down one of those streets after dark? . . . NO, of course not. So, what does - or can - the TAT do, in the face of that obstacle to domestic tourism . . . demolish the walking streets and all the other relics of the cheap thrill-seekers' vacationing? Some obstacle.

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