Ministry Of Tourism Considering Yingluck's 'Thai Maldives' Proposal

(4 June) The Minister of
Tourism said he′s ready to adopt the idea of turning Thailand into the new Maldives as proposed by
PM Yingluck Shinawatra after her trip to the South Asian nation.

Previously, Ms.
Yingluck has said that
the Maldives have beautiful seascape and coral reefs for tourists to see, and Thailand posessess
equally beautiful islands. But the difference is that the Maldives has superior cleanliness, are
more environmentally friendly, and are primarily focused on the safety of tourists, according to the
Prime Minister.

Mr .Somsak Purisrisak, Minister of Tourism and Sports, gave an
interview in regards to the Prim Minister’s plan for Thailand to support investors to improve the
environment of the tourism to Thailand hoping to draw tourists with high purchasing power, much like
the Maldives.

Mr.Somsak said that the potential for Thailand to promote marine tourism like
the Maldives is dependent on the Ministry of Tourism and Sports who will be integrated tourism
benefits in a manner of Eco Tourism, which has been started in many islands, such as Ang Tong
Islands, Surathani. Koh Paluay is considered a green island and is a favorite among tourists as
well, he said.

Many other islands attract foreign tourists to Thailand, even though they
are not yet as famous as the Malives, for example, Chang islands. Thus, to follow in the words of
the PM, the ministry will be coordinating with each province with islands in the Gulf of Thailand
and Andaman Sea, the minister said.

Mr. Somsak stated that the Ministry of Tourism and
Sports projects the number of tourists is expected to reach 25 million by the end of 2013, with an
earnings estimate of 1.6 trillion baht. The government has set a target of 2 million baht for 2015
by international marketing for the tourists from the upperclass Indian market, European market,
Russia, and upper class Chinese tourists.

The minister is also set to travel to Beijing to
sign a partnership with China′s Ministry of Tourism on June 19 to help resolve issues “zero dollar
tours”.

ero dollar tours refer to the extorting method operated by a number of tour
companies in Thailand, especially in the southern part of the country. These tour companies do not
charge tour fares from inbound tour companies which bring tourists from China, lowering the price of
the tour package these tourists had to pay back home and consequently increasing incentives for them
to choose the package.

However, once in Thailand, the tourists will be forced to pay for many
additional fees to generate profits for the Thailand-based companies. The tour guides will ferry the
tourists to markets or jewelry shops and forced them to buy overpriced items (from which the
companies will receive commissions), and to tourist attractions where the tourists are required to
pay to participate, such as sex shows or other entertainment venues.

If the tourists refuse,
the guides will resort to threatening manner or even violent means. Some tour guides even leave the
tour group stranded in shopping malls if they cannot make enough profit out of the groups. Analysts
say the practice has greatly damaged Thailand′s reputation as a tourist destination.