Thailand towards 2030: It’s time to get smart when it comes to tourism

Simon Akeroyd

Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Business Development, Amadeus

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In May this year, it was reported that the Thai authorities were closing Maya Bay on the island of Phi Phi until 2021. You may know this island as 'The Beach' - the famous Leonardo Di Caprio film that hit our screens all the way back in 2000.

The reason for the closure was overtourism. Phi Phi has seen a huge increase in daily visitors from 170 in 2008 to 3,500 in 2017. This increase in travelers has caused damage to the coral reef and surrounding marine life.

We believe ‘Smart Tourism’ can help remedy these kinds of issues and for Smart Tourism to be successful, collaboration is key. Knowing this, we have brought together leaders from Thailand’s Digital Economy Promotion Agency (depa) and the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) to identify key areas of focus for Thailand’s tourism industry and to provide a roadmap for the decade ahead. These areas of opportunity are outlined in our report, Thailand towards 2030 - Future of Travel & Tourism.

The example of Maya Bay is a stark reminder of how over tourism can put a strain on a country's travel infrastructure. Thailand has always had a flourishing travel and tourism industry with the sector responsible for 15.9% of all employment in the country and contributing 21.6% to the country’s GDP. It goes without saying that closures such as ‘The Beach’ can undermine the long-term growth of Thailand’s tourism industry if not effectively tackled. But there is a solution that can help governments take adequate precautionary measures before such perilous situations arise in the first place.

Smart Tourism is the new mantra for success that provides the government, travel companies and tourist industries opportunities to utilize big data and relevant information to ensure destinations continue to be more livable, more accessible and easier to navigate.

Smart Tourism can help a destination:

  • Attract the right traveler by having a better understanding of their preferences
  • Facilitate traveler touch points along the entire travel journey
  • Connect travelers with city infrastructure and commuter networks for a more seamless travel experience
  • Serve travelers better by connecting data, travel providers and traveler touch points

In fact, Smart Cities of which Smart Tourism is a key subset, has been a focus area for Amadeusfor some time now. Considering our solutions connect the entire travel ecosystem at every stage of the journey, we consider it our responsibility to improve the travel experience of hundreds of millions of tourists every year.

The Thailand towards 2030 reportfocuses on four key areas:

  1. Thailand’s airports - Physical expansion of airports to deal with increased number of tourists is a costly and time consuming. Using smart tech, a more effective passenger management can take place at airports helping to deal with capacity issues faster.  
  2. Improved inter-modality - Improving onward transport links (air-to-city links) from Thailand’s airports will be vital over the next decade – both within airport cities, and beyond.
  3. Increased public-private partnership to scale up-smart mobility - Smart mobility solutions that improve the efficiency of population movements can make a huge difference in Thailand to reduce congestion and pollution.
  4. Using data to minimize the negative impact of tourism - Encouraging sustainable travel to rule out the negative aspects of over tourism.

Stay tuned for follow-up blogs that will delve into each one of the above areas in more detail. Or simply download the full Thailand towards 2030 Future of Travel & Tourism reportright now.

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Asia Pacific, Social Responsibility, Thailand, Environmental Sustainability, Research

This article is also available in these languages: русский