On Friday, the National News Bureau of Thailand (NNT) reported that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra "has urged the Tourism Authority of Thailand [TAT] to attract more high-end tourists into the country". Ms Yingluck said that at present those tourists who could be classified as high-end make up only about 20% of the market, and she'd like to see that increase to 30%.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with trying to attract wealthy tourists, and this has been the policy of the TAT for some time. But aside from the great natural beauty of the country and the famously friendly nature of the Thai people, one of the main reasons for Thailand's thriving tourist industry is that it is considered an affordable destination. Catering to the high-end market has already inevitably driven up prices for everyone, and if the trend continues there is a danger that many foreigners, especially those with families, will look elsewhere for a holiday destination.
The tourism industry really should be more appreciative of the "low-end tourist" market. This doesn't mean poor people - they can't afford the airfare - or "sex tourists" or other undesirables who might actually throw a lot of money around. It means people on a budget, and that includes the vast majority of people who dip into their savings to visit Thailand or any other foreign country on holiday, especially those with families.
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