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'Thai tourism firms lack knowledge of AEC'
Publication Date : 01-08-2013
Thai tourism businesses should study in deeper detail the opening of the Asean Economic Community in 2015 to maximise benefits for their operations, especially ways to cut costs and stimulate sales, Piti Sriseangnam, an economic lecturer at Chulalongkorn University, said yesterday.
Many know only that the AEC will allow them to invest in the 10-nation bloc - especially in the hotel business - by taking up to a controlling 70-per-cent stake in luxury hotels. Also, they would gain from the free flow of skilled labour to fill job vacancies.
In fact, they should make use of duty-free imports from the AEC, such as food and beef, as well as furniture and flowers used in the hospitality industry, instead of importing from some non-Asean zones like Australia, as a shortcut to save costs.
Also, they should look for ways to boost sales by joining forces with other businesses. In line with the country's positioning as a regional medical hub, hotels should work with hospitals to offer room service to patients during their treatment. Some of them have to stay here for a month to undergo artificial insemination, he said after a luncheon hosted by the Thailand Incentive and Convention Association
The tourism industry still faces barriers. Clearly, awareness of the AEC's opening is still low, especially among those working in the provinces. This group faces a high risk after the regional opening up, as the flow of skilled labourers with stronger English could threaten their jobs.
The Philippines has launched a nursing programme in Thai and Vietnamese. Students have requested to be taught in Thai in some programmes. At Yanhee Hospital, 30 Filipina nurses have downgraded their qualifications to work as assistant nurses.
The public and private sectors should work in harmony to overcome the obstacles and define a clearer direction, especially in terms of tourism branding and boosting competitiveness. The government should play a role as a catalyst in crafting a practical policy for the industry. Then, achieving the government's goal of 2.2 trillion baht (US$70 billion) in tourism revenue by 2015 will no longer be difficult.
Operators should also work and compete in a fair environment. In particular, hotels should not adopt a pricing strategy that hurts the industry as a whole. They already suffer enough from low margins and threats from online sales channels such as Agoda.