Many people come to Phuket to see Thailand’s most popular beaches, the island’s clear waters and its unique culture. As Phuket is a major tourist destination, local businesses depend heavily on the tourism factor. Phuketindex.com talks with Khun Anoma Vongyai about the focus of the TAT in Phuket’s future.
“My name is Anoma Vongyai. I work at the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Phuket offi ce as the director. I graduated from the Prince of Songkla University, Pattani Campus. After that I studied for a master’s degree in tourism at the James Cook University, in Australia.”
“I worked with the TAT in Phuket from 1991 until 2009 then I moved to the TAT in Tokyo as the assistant director, and after that I moved back to head offi ce. I was posted back to the TAT Phuket in 2014.”
Tourism in Thailand and Phuket last year
Phuket is a major tourist destination and in terms of the number of tourists coming here we are number two after Bangkok. Last year we welcomed about 13 million visitors. The number one demographic is Chinese, followed by Russia, and Australia.
This year our received revenue from tourism was about 313,000,000,000 baht (3.13 K. million baht), up from last year. However there’s a lot of competition and a lot of situations change every year, so we have to work hard together with the private sector and relevant organizations to push more tourism promotions and also to work in improving tourist management in Phuket.
Tourism trends in the future, in the TAT’s opinion
In the past, tourists visiting Thailand or Phuket came as a group but now the trend is changing. Recently visitors come to Phuket or Thailand as individuals rather than in big groups. So activities for them have to be adjusted to complement the typical tourist nowadays. The trend is that people love to travel by themselves, sourcing information on the internet rather than by tours or at the hotel information desk.
And tourists prefer to experience more activities, not only to see, but they prefer to experience the locals. So local people or local communities are beginning to suit the trend including shops, the markets and the community itself. That means we should adjust if we would like tourists to visit our areas. In this manner locals can receive income directly, and it is one of government’s policies to try to push this kind of tourism, a style we call the ‘local experience’. This is the trend for this year for Thailand and Phuket.
Future plans of TAT
As for the TAT, we would like to promote a wider range of nationalities coming to Thailand. We don’t want to rely on only one or two market segments. We think we need diff ering nationalities and we need quality. So we try to tap more niche markets. It could be China or from anywhere like Europe, the Middle East, or even India, but there should be more of a selection, such as MICE for meetings and incentive groups, for weddings, honeymoons and for golf. These are the policies and strategies that we’re working on together with private sectors.
TAT and Phuket ‘Smart City’ project
As mentioned above, now the trend is that visitors are more online rather than using travel guides as they did in the past. It will be a good opportunity to cater to the tourists when they come to Phuket and tourists can know more about Phuket through these digital tools and it represents a distinct advantage for tourists. So we call the concept ‘Smart City’. These ideas are divided into diff erent fields such as ‘smart economy’, ‘smart health’, ‘smart safety’ and of course ‘smart tourism’. The relevant organizations each handle the individual projects and all projects receive a budget from the government to develop Phuket in order to facilitate tourism facilities in the future.