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11 Aug, 2016

Dutch Chamber hosts first luncheon talk on Historic Success of Thai Tourism

Bangkok – The Netherlands-Thai Chamber of Commerce has become the first in Thailand to host a luncheon talk on the inspiring history behind the phenomenal success of the Thai tourism industry. Two of Thailand’s longest serving travel trade journalists, Imtiaz Muqbil, Executive Editor of Travel Impact Newswire, and Don Ross, Editor of TTR Weekly, gave the presentation and answered questions in an hour-long event that was widely appreciated by the Chamber executives and the audience.

The 50 registered participants were about double the regular number that turns up for meetings of the chamber’s tourism committee events, according to Chamber executive director Hans van den Born.

With 30 million visitors in 2015 and projections of 33 million in 2016, the Thai tourism industry has become a bedrock of the Thai economy at a time of low agricultural prices and intense competition for manufacturing sector exports. While there is a lot of rah-rah talk about a bright future prospects of an industry that has become too big to fail, there is also a shockingly low level of awareness of the historic events that made this growth possible.

Next year 2017, will mark the 30th anniversary of Visit Thailand Year 1987, one of the greatest marketing events in the history of global tourism. When Mr Muqbil asked the audience if anyone knew why VTY was commemorated, not a single hand went up.

This lack of knowledge, appreciation and respect for past history amongst today’s generation of both Thai and expatriate executives means that the industry is in danger of repeating the mistakes of the past.

According to the chamber’s marketing pitch for the event, “The Thai tourism industry has become by far the Kingdom’s most successful service sector, one of its leading job-creators and largest foreign exchange-earners. Behind this success lies a fascinating history of great branding campaigns, policy and regulatory changes, budgetary bun fights, strategic thinking, and marketing of Royal events. Crafted and honed by gutsy Tourism Authority of Thailand executives, visionary hoteliers, feisty airline executives and clear-thinking tour operators, Thailand’s tourism marketing geniuses have helped the industry overcome economic crises, health pandemics, natural disasters, military coups, political wrangling, and global and regional problems.

“But this success today has spawned a new set of management challenges that may be more difficult to overcome. True, travel & tourism has become too big to fail, but it is also in danger of becoming a victim of its own success. A famous dictum says that those who don’t learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it. The Thai tourism industry is at that crossroad now.”

Mr Ross and Mr Muqbil have curated their cumulative 70 years of reports, notes, research and interviews into an unrivalled collection of Travel & Tourism history. The talk is available for presentation in various formats at management meetings, travel industry conferences and other public events, in Thailand or abroad.

The talk was organised at the initiative of Dr Bert van Walbeek, Managing Director of The Winning Edge and a member of the Netherlands-Thai Chamber of Commerce, also a long-time resident of Thailand and veteran industry executive. It was sponsored by Yaana Ventures.

Here are some visuals from the event:


Imtiaz Muqbil delivering the talk.

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 1.17.03 PM

From left: David Barrett, CEO and Creative Director, Hype Global; Imtiaz Muqbil; Don Ross; Bert van Walbeek.


Imtiaz Muqbil with Netherlands-Thai Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Hans van den Born.