Thailand warned to improve tourism skills

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tuktuk bkkThailand, currently number 2 as per annual visitors in Southeast Asia behind Malaysia and ahead of Singapore, cannot rest on its laurels for being the “Land of Smiles” with great beach lines and a liberal fun environment, the Center for International Trade Studies at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce said.

Hospitality firms and workers in Thailand have been urged to develop their service skills and adopt a friendlier attitude to cope with the strong competition in ASEAN’s tourism industry, amid warnings that the country is in danger of losing ground to Malaysia and Singapore. They need to create more value in tourism and build more attractions, the center said.

While tourism numbers in Thailand indeed are constantly rising (by 16 per cent in 2012 to 22.3 million) and the Thai government recently increased the 2015 tourism revenue target by another 10 per cent to 2.2 trillion baht ($64.5 billion) by 2013 – mainly on positive forecasts for Chinese visits -, there are downsides to the sector.

Thailand does not undertake enough to develop the sector and improve tourism and hospitality services to draw more visitors. The hospitality industry should urgently improve its services and the attitude of its employees or the country could see fewer visitors in the future, the center found.

Among the greatest annoyances is that few tourism workers speak a sufficient level of English, a huge drawback compared to Malaysia, Singapore and even the Philippines, and employees seldom would send their staff on language training. Another issue is that Thai services staff seems to prefer certain nationalities measured by the weight of their wallet, which means that Japanese, Gulf nationals and upper-class European and US tourists are preferred and others, such as Indians and also Chinese, for example, do not receive that much attention.

Long-timers in Thailand can tell a thing or two about that.

“The servile attitude of some people craving for the highest possible amount of tips instead of providing a better service can sometimes be annoying,” an angered expat told Inside Investor.

“Many restaurants, even the more expensive ones, lack the basic principles of the food service industry, for example serving dishes  for two persons at the same time and not one after the other, so that one eats and the other stays hungry, or not to serve red wine from the fridge or in wrong glasses, just to mention a few things,” he added.

The famous Thai experience of a “Land of Smiles” ends at least when visitors get exposed to taxi and jet ski scams in certain holiday spots, get fined 2,000 baht ($63) by corrupt police for dropping a cigarette or some small rubbish on the street, or have the experience of their lifetime when getting robbed by entertainment workers.

Other issues that foreign visitors are worried about include political stability, travelers’ safety in general, lacking integrated service facilities and poor Internet services.

As for the language capabilities, Thais seldom speak conversational English, but they are also not proficient in other ASEAN languages that  matter, let alone in Chinese, Japanese and Korean to enact in a meaningful talk with people of countries where most of the tourist come from nowadays.

The tourism industry in Thailand has reached such revenue volume that many negative situations could hit the country’s entire economy very hard. For example, if the US intervenes in Syria it could trigger a major crisis that would immediately impact travel from Europe and the Middle East. Domestic political instability, protests, the use of the Internal Security Act and the government’s otherwise inability to cope with internal tensions are further risks that need to be addressed.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Thailand, currently number 2 as per annual visitors in Southeast Asia behind Malaysia and ahead of Singapore, cannot rest on its laurels for being the “Land of Smiles” with great beach lines and a liberal fun environment, the Center for International Trade Studies at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce said.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

tuktuk bkkThailand, currently number 2 as per annual visitors in Southeast Asia behind Malaysia and ahead of Singapore, cannot rest on its laurels for being the “Land of Smiles” with great beach lines and a liberal fun environment, the Center for International Trade Studies at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce said.

Hospitality firms and workers in Thailand have been urged to develop their service skills and adopt a friendlier attitude to cope with the strong competition in ASEAN’s tourism industry, amid warnings that the country is in danger of losing ground to Malaysia and Singapore. They need to create more value in tourism and build more attractions, the center said.

While tourism numbers in Thailand indeed are constantly rising (by 16 per cent in 2012 to 22.3 million) and the Thai government recently increased the 2015 tourism revenue target by another 10 per cent to 2.2 trillion baht ($64.5 billion) by 2013 – mainly on positive forecasts for Chinese visits -, there are downsides to the sector.

Thailand does not undertake enough to develop the sector and improve tourism and hospitality services to draw more visitors. The hospitality industry should urgently improve its services and the attitude of its employees or the country could see fewer visitors in the future, the center found.

Among the greatest annoyances is that few tourism workers speak a sufficient level of English, a huge drawback compared to Malaysia, Singapore and even the Philippines, and employees seldom would send their staff on language training. Another issue is that Thai services staff seems to prefer certain nationalities measured by the weight of their wallet, which means that Japanese, Gulf nationals and upper-class European and US tourists are preferred and others, such as Indians and also Chinese, for example, do not receive that much attention.

Long-timers in Thailand can tell a thing or two about that.

“The servile attitude of some people craving for the highest possible amount of tips instead of providing a better service can sometimes be annoying,” an angered expat told Inside Investor.

“Many restaurants, even the more expensive ones, lack the basic principles of the food service industry, for example serving dishes  for two persons at the same time and not one after the other, so that one eats and the other stays hungry, or not to serve red wine from the fridge or in wrong glasses, just to mention a few things,” he added.

The famous Thai experience of a “Land of Smiles” ends at least when visitors get exposed to taxi and jet ski scams in certain holiday spots, get fined 2,000 baht ($63) by corrupt police for dropping a cigarette or some small rubbish on the street, or have the experience of their lifetime when getting robbed by entertainment workers.

Other issues that foreign visitors are worried about include political stability, travelers’ safety in general, lacking integrated service facilities and poor Internet services.

As for the language capabilities, Thais seldom speak conversational English, but they are also not proficient in other ASEAN languages that  matter, let alone in Chinese, Japanese and Korean to enact in a meaningful talk with people of countries where most of the tourist come from nowadays.

The tourism industry in Thailand has reached such revenue volume that many negative situations could hit the country’s entire economy very hard. For example, if the US intervenes in Syria it could trigger a major crisis that would immediately impact travel from Europe and the Middle East. Domestic political instability, protests, the use of the Internal Security Act and the government’s otherwise inability to cope with internal tensions are further risks that need to be addressed.

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