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18 Mar, 2019

June 14, 2019: First Forum on The Greatest Story in Global Tourism HiSTORY

Bangkok – At 0900 hrs on March 18, exactly 59 years ago, what was then known as the Tourist Organisation of Thailand opened for business. Its duty, in the words of Gen Chalermchai Charuvastr, its first Director-General, was to promote visitor arrivals by “creating a wholesome image” of the Thai people.

Editor’s Note

The Forum venue has been changed to the Arnoma Grand Bangkok. It was initially due to be held at the Regent Hospitality School, Cha-am


The one-year countdown has begun to 2020 when what is today known as the Tourism Authority of Thailand as well as Thai Airways International, the other founding pillar of Thai tourism, will both mark their 60th anniversary, the auspicious completion of the 5th cycle of life.

It will be a “Coming of Age” for Thai tourism in more ways than one.

In just economic and financial terms, Thai tourism has succeeded beyond its wildest expectations. With more than 40 million arrivals and two trillion baht in income, the industry has become too big to fail.

It has survived and overcome just about every kind of crisis known to mankind, from political upheavals to health pandemics, natural disasters to economic collapse – thanks to the dedication and commitment of many Thais and expatriates.

At the same time, success has had its downside in terms of social, cultural and environmental impact.

All these ups and downs are chapters in what I consider to be the The Greatest Story in Global Tourism HiSTORY, which I have had the privilege of reporting on since 1981. My archives collection on just about every local, regional and global aspect of Thai tourism is unmatched by any single institutional entity or university.

The upcoming 60th anniversary is a good time to start reflecting on the past, present and future of Thai tourism.

In the months to come, and all through 2020, dozens of seminars, forums and conferences will be held to assess the state of play. Many will be “official”, sponsored events with the usual congratulatory back-thumping. But others will be more realistic, honest and balanced.

On June 14, 2019, I will set the ball rolling with the first forum on the topic, “110 Factors that Shaped Thai Tourism”. To be held at the Arnoma Grand Bangkok, it will cover:

  • The rich origins, history and heritage of Thailand’s fastest growing economic sector.

  • The most important failures and mistakes.
  • The most important crises it has tackled.

  • The most important marketing strategies.

  • The most important management challenges it faces.

  • Conclusion: 11 ways to develop a more sophisticated, stable and holistic industry

The commemorative Facebook set up by the TAT

Gen Chalermchai Charuvastr

 The history of Thai tourism can be divided into five periods:

1) The “birth and infancy” period prior to 1960;

2) The “childhood and adolescence” period from 1960 to 1987;

3) The “rip-roaring thirties” from 1987 to 1997;

4) The “yo-yo midlife crises” years of 1997-2014; and

5) The current “ageing and beyond” period.

Each of those eras has its unique dynamics from which the industry can learn as it strives to carve out a more safe, secure, balanced and sustainable future.

As the sole speaker and presenter, I will share my historic collection of notes, research and reports. For example:

The full list of projects, events and activities in the historic Visit Thailand Year 1987, marking the auspicious 60th birthday of the late monarch, His Majesty King Bhumibhol Adulyadej. I was privileged to be on the Organising Committee.

The front cover of Thai Airways International’s 1997 Annual Report. It has been “Aiming to be the best” for decades. Never quite seems to get there. Why has it not been able to capitalise on the national tourism boom to bolster its own fortunes?

The Grand Dame of Thai hotels. How did it become the Best Hotel in the World? And why is it no longer so?

In 1983, the cost of a seven-day tour around Thailand was only US440. How much has it changed today?

The Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre was purpose built in record time for this event. It galvanised the entire MICE sector to new level.

Eco-tourism has been on the tourism agenda for decades. This was one of the first international conferences organised in Thailand. By now, Thailand should have been a leader in the field. Is it?

A master document produced in 1993 which shows clearly how the Thai tourism industry has failed to adopt solutions to many of the environmental problems it has long been aware of.

Another long-standing problem that is still around today.

One of the many ASEAN tourism events held in Thailand over the years. Another success story.

The decision to move the PATA HQ to Bangkok was also taken 20 years ago this year. Another historic event in the annals of Thai tourism.

The Forum, to be conducted in English, is an independent, non-sponsored event designed to ensure maximum freedom of discussion. It is perfectly targeted at the emerging generation of young Thai tourism leaders, expatriate travel & tourism executives (especially those newly arrived in Thailand), investors, diplomats, civil society activists, UN and other multilateral agency representatives, marketing consultants, and Chambers of Commerce members.

New emerging destinations in Asia and Africa, especially states, provinces and cities, will find it particularly useful to learn from the Thai tourism experience, both for the better and worse.

As the forum is meant for serious connoisseurs and students of Thai tourism history, attendance is being capped at 25. Please drop me an email <imtiaz@travel-impact-newswire.com> to get further details on costs and other arrangements.