Monday, 1 February 2016

Garbutt: Thai-UK tourism opportunity of the future

The Nation opinion piece today on the need to safeguard and expand the critical Thai tourism industry was timely and excellent given the peak of the farang inbound tourism this month.

Thailand’s aim of 30M tourist is similar to the UK – the latter the only non-Asian tourism group to increase in recent years: now almost 1m visitors to Amazing Thailand.

An influx of British tourists that is equivalent to the population of the Rose City of Chiang Mai you mention – almost every month. And double the population of Phuket.

And Britain’s tourist fans of Thailand voted with their feet and stayed - and actually increased - during the recent political troubles - as the Chinese and Russian tourists fled.

And as the UN forecasts tourism as the #1 global industry of the 21st century - and in keeping with the importance to Thailand of over 19% of Thai GDP and 8% of the workforce you mention – then surely a UK-Thai Tourism joint venture would benefit both nations?

At the very least synching the UK in Summer and Thailand in Winter business cycle would benefit both nations’ tourism industries. And your readers may be unaware of Thailand being a top 5 UK focus for growth, and Thai tourists to UK - while a small group - already account for the 3rd largest spend after China and Arabian tourists.

While with UK support, Thai Tourism’s excellent new 12 Unseen Thailand areas for lesser-known sights such as Loei or Chantaburi would help prevent the tsunami of concrete seen around Pattaya and Phuket that will ultimately reduce Thailand’s appeals in the face of newer resorts in Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar.

Perhaps even more dangerous for Thai tourism is an increase in ASEAN tours already promoted in UK of a day in Bangkok, a day at Siem Reap, a day at HCMC and 10 days at DaNang or Phuket or Bagan. Tourists may not even know they’re in Thailand let alone where it is or its culture.

And Thailand’s economy would be the poorer for it.

Or worse, a focus on the Thailand clich├ęs and negatives of yaba and heroin, road deaths, human trafficking, ladyboys and bombs, bayonets or backpacker deaths, that can too often be the face of the Land of Smiles in Europe and USA, are not reversed.

Your readers will almost certainly have seen Bike for Dad in Bangkok and Britain’s Ambassador Kent on a British Brompton bicycle rather than the more usual Jaguar, Bentley or Landrover – but perhaps may not be aware of similar albeit smaller celebrations and support in London.

A sporting support perhaps not unexpected in London, given UK’s expertise from the 2012 Olympics, and sports expertise whether Wiggins or Beckham, and potential for Sports Tourism with Thailand: where were the UK tourists for the Asian Beach Games in Phuket last year? And why are the Thundercastles not playing at Wembley if the Foxes and Gunners are regular visitors to Bangkok?. Surely a shoe-in for a Thai-UK Creative Industries initiative?

As a UK political candidate – the only UK candidate ever with a manifesto in Thai and supporting Thailand: - waving the Union Jack is one thing, but it should fit with Thailand’s Kitchen of the World, OneTambon and Detroit of Asia programmes. The latter is also ripe for UK-Thai cooperation as just one of the new UK auto factories – with Japanese support - already exceeds the production of the whole Italian car industry.

While the Royal Mint UK-Thai new cooperation over producing coins could easily extend to the roses of Rose City or the Orchids of Kent across both nations’ postage stamps, towns and industries.

The UK is one of the very few EU nations with Embassies and British Council and UKTI Trade in every ASEAN nation, and of course with the new Lao Embassy, London is the only EU –if not global - city represented by every ASEAN nation in the Asian Century.

So, an initiative of say a UK-Thai Cooperation League could easily marshal the various Embassies, universities, government ministries and trade organisations and think tanks to deepen existing ties and boost the economies in Tourism etc for both nations.

The Great British and Amazing Thai publics should demand nothing less.

Time for Change


Misc: Tim’s Tibits

• East Kent procurement: the good folks of Waitrose displaying a rather excellent mix of Duracell and Great British Panasonic batteries and worth checking out. Personally, free market and all that I would have added a third choice but they know their stuff with a splendid mix of bumper packs and rechargeable batteries. The Panasonic Meiji East Kent Challenge goes out to Poundland, UK’s No1 battery stockist they say, and Wilkinsons with a rather impressive battery display too albeit no Panasonic

• A few more details on Kent Police Meiji Cars: 2,200 police cars shared between Kent and Essex police c.£15k each that would be £33M over 3-5 years or so: 10% of the KP budget – and that’s without servicing and repairs and whatnot. Shouldn’t these tax budgets be effectively deployed in economic regeneration?

• Strange circular inaction from Amanda Berry again at TDC on the Tonis noisy newsagents issues. Fascinating to see up-close how little TDC does. While with anti-social behaviour (with noise and parking by far the largest public issue) how little TDC does. All the more concerning as that inevitably bounces back to the police. Drop Amanda a line to see what she’s upto on the rates:

• Kent Police crime statistics horrifying - although fairly average for UK: 10% detection rate for burglary and 175 detection rate for rape – looks like defective detectives to me. Even sheep-shagging and tractor robbery in Dyfed, North Wales could only result in 50% arrests. See the Tonis newsagents point above for resource etc…

• That said Kent Police have been very active with Operation Jupiter drugs gangs reform London to the slum towns of Medway and 34(!) drug and gun arrests in East Kent recently – noteworthy that there were “queues of junkies” for the drug dens – and should be rewarded with Operation Jolly BlueBoys Outings; why shouldn’t the main detectives and first-raiders not be rewarded beyond the risk of being machete chopped?

• Even more concerning is the incompetence and bureaucratic shuffle of the Military Police as the Deepcut Barracks murder-suicide of 4 soldiers reopens(!) today – it seems the Military Police rather than Surrey Police were handling a murder investigation(!) and carried out no forensics of uniforms or guns at all and are now lost(!)

• 100SE Rd garden grabbing still ramshackle: Amanda Raymond and Cllr Fairbrass lost their tongue on why 11 flats becomes 13 and RTC silent on why they approved 11 but it becomes 13. Shambolic. If Fairbrass and Shonk can’t get a grip on the planning process then they’re useless and should resign. What kind of Mickey Mouse council doesn’t even follow its own Local Plan? What else are they upto? £17M in wages and pensions is a lot to pay for failure and lies.

• Judge Smithy’s suitcase still in the Lost Property cupboard apparently

• GlickGate: Lord Grabiner and Judge Glick (High Court judges remember) silent on the Hollingworth barrister and lawyer fraud – not denying it mind you just silent pretending it will go away – perhaps they could work the Deepcut inquiry and say forensics were carried out?

• Zika pandemic: unbelievably abysmal safeguards by WHO after the Ebola mess and over a year of braindead children and the mosquito bug spreading throughout Latin America and soon the rest of the world – and when the UK is completely lackadaisical on vaccines etc

• Bizarre G4S and Loomis cash vans and even the cop cars are driving through the pedestrianised High St when they feel like too

• Diversity concerns now over High Court sentencing a black man more likely to be in prison than university – and with higher criminal sentences for similar crimes to a while man. While fewer working class white kids in university. Business Minister Javid also rightly beginning a diversity inquiry with David Lammy for UK schools and universities –even the military eg the Royal Marines with not one black officer – and surely Kent schools need review eg Medway the worst primary schools in UK. Timely given the Oscar diversity complaint (and Lenny Henry speaking out on the lack of diversity in UK television) and USA police 400 shooting deaths (Scottish Police now advising on shooting fewer of your own citizens although they might leave you to die in a ditch in a road accident..)

• Dodgy Thanet election again: an extra £14k of election expenses for Tory LocalCraig ( I cannot understand how you can both magistrate and MP – making laws and carrying them out) for numerous Tory officials staying at the Harbour Hotel through the election – double the expenses they claimed and over double the limit allowed. It makes TingTong Janice look amateurish. So much for a fair and open British election in Kent

• Good though LocalCraig has spoken out about the silly Shard aerial but silent on the increasingly strange Nemo link – how did TDC approve that given SSSI Pegwell bay status

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