Thailand: Group makes plans for tourism future

The Federation of Thai Tourism Associations (Fetta) is hoping its revival will allow for a more flexible workflow and agenda-based development, after seven tourism associations recently quit the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) and joined Fetta.

Adith Chairattananon, Fetta representative and honorary secretary-general of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (Atta), said the federation will drive policies through a flat organisational structure without a hierarchy.

The strategy will have an agenda with core topics, then one association will be assigned as the leader to drive specific issues, said Mr Adith. For example, attracting Chinese tourists will be assigned to Atta, while the Thai Hotels Association (THA) will supervise issues in the accommodation supply chain, he said.

Mr Adith said when member associations worked under TCT in the past, one obstacle was the principle of one vote for each small association.

For instance, a small association with 10-20 operators has one vote, the same as larger associations that have more than a thousand members.

As Fetta has only seven associations, compared with more than 100 under TCT, it should allow for more efficient workflow and cooperation between members, he said.

In the short term, the federation aims to organise the Thailand International Tourism Conference by the end of this year.

Fetta will also propose policies to the new government, including a need to postpone higher minimum wages as many hotels in Thailand still have a financial burden, said Mr Adith.

The federation will also ask for lower interest rates for tour operators.

Regarding long-term goals, the establishment of a tourism fund for operators, tax exemptions for renovating hotels and visa exemptions for Thai tourists visiting Europe and the US are on the agenda, he said.

Fetta comprises Atta, THA, the Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA), the Thai Tourism Promotion Association, the Professional Tourist Guide Association of Thailand, the Thai Transportation Operators Association, and the Association of Domestic Travel.

THA has almost 1,000 hotels as members with 160,000 rooms nationwide, or about 26% of total licensed hotels in Thailand.

Meanwhile, 1,800 agent members under Atta recorded roughly 10 million foreign arrivals in 2019, generating more than 500 billion baht. TTAA, which is responsible for outbound tourism, had 900 members accommodating 12 million Thai travellers in 2019.