Speech of H.E. Kulkumut Singhara Na Ayudhaya,
Ambassador of Thailand to the Republic of the Philippines
on the occasion of the Symposium on ?Promotion of Tourism Industry Through Diplomacy?
San Beda College Alabang
24 September 2010


Vice Dean Jose Vasquez, Prof. Mitch Aquino, Prof. Cristy Lopez, Faculty members, Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the Royal Thai Embassy and Team Thailand in the Philippines, it is my pleasure to extend my warmest felicitations to everyone taking part in this symposium on tourism and diplomacy.

This symposium has indeed come at a very opportune moment when the Royal Thai Government is broadening its efforts to promote our tourism industry in order to mitigate the effects of our country?s political situation last May.

To start with, I would like to share an insight from the 18th century British author Samuel Johnson who once said, ?The use of travelling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.?

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to take this opportunity to stir your imagination about the wonders of Thailand?s tourism industry with the hope that through this speech, I may be able to show you the plight of our tourism industry and our tourist destinations ?as they are.?

We are very FORTUNATE for the myriad blessings nature has bestowed on us as seen in our unique landscapes, water systems, rivers, canals, mountainous areas, diverse culture, food, national sports and people. In fact, this recognition of nature?s blessings serves as the pillar of our Tourism Authority?s focus on ?ecological minimization?, which shows our immense care and concern for the environment.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thailand is known as the ?Venice of Asia? because of its good transportation on plenty of rivers and canals; and the ?Land of Smiles? not only because our visitors love our country?s magnificent beauty and historical places, but also because of our natural hospitality and good will of the people.

In fact, foreigners love to return to Thailand because of their wonderful experience with our people. Aside from these, Thai cuisines also attract foreigners all over the world. In particular, they are fascinated with our foods and tropical fruits, which have also become popular to people from every corner of the world.

Furthermore, our government utilizes our natural and human resources to boost our tourism industry, in ways which are not detrimental to the environment. Particularly, our river systems, such as the Chao Phraya River, are used to facilitate tourist travel and the magnificent floating restaurants.

Also, our cultural performances attract many tourists. Each province in Thailand has its own unique and colourful cultures which are shown in the attires we wear, the cuisines we offer, and even the sports we play, particularly sword fighting, takraw, flying lanterns, Thai flying rockets, kite/cock fighting, and Muay Thai, which is also getting popular here in the Philippines and in some other European countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thailand, being a Buddhist country, is very fortunate to have people who are hospitable, calm and understanding to foreign guests. In fact, infrastructures in Thailand have been established to facilitate tourism. Through such infrastructures, especially airports and roads, we are able to connect many tourist destinations within and outside our country. National streets can connect to Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, China and Myanmar.

Take for example our famous Suvarnabhumi Airport which is located in the middle of Thailand. The airport makes it easy and convenient for people to travel not only to different places in the ASEAN region but also around the world as gateway.

It is also our humble way of telling our foreign guests that: IN THAILAND, WE SUPPORT AND VALUE OUR TOURISTS.

Apart from our hospitality and good infrastructures, another key to the success of our tourism industry revolves around our sound tourism policies implemented by our government agencies, private sector and Thai society in general. An example of which is our Tourism Authority?s ?Amazing Thailand? which guides tourists in exploring and experiencing the beauty of nature.

Paralleled to this is the promotion of medical tourism wherein tourists are given the advantage of express and affordable medical services, particularly in dental health and medical check-up. It is noteworthy to share that in Thailand we offer different herbal medicines as alternative to modern and technology-based curative methods.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thailand?s tourism industry is very much interconnected with the country?s real estate industry. Our real estate sector strictly complies with the rules and regulations of our government. For instance, the hotels and resorts near our coast or rivers are directed to maintain a certain distance from the beach and banks that they (hotels and resorts) are obliged to practice according to laws and regulations.

Furthermore, we have the Department of Construction under the Ministry of Interior, which grants permits to those engaged in the real estate industry. In Thailand, a permit is issued only when our government is convinced that a certain project is reliable.

A monumental success in Thailand?s real estate and tourism industries is the Industrial Park Zone, which was constructed through joint efforts between our government and the private sector. Indeed, the Zone represents the sound relationship between our government and stakeholders, which is one of the pillars of Thailand?s progress.

In addition, the Zone also shows how we effectively implement an integrated plan in the area of real estate development. Our government had facilitated the creation of good sewage systems, electric systems, international schools, hospitals, and the like. All these have been established in areas which are not only strategic and beneficial for the Thai people and local community but also for foreigners, particularly investors. So to speak, our success in the real estate industry can largely be attributed to our effective national plan and well-determined areas of priority.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The illustration I have just sketched explains why around 15 million people travel to Thailand every year and why many foreigners, specifically Europeans, love to retire in Thailand.

For your further information, there are around 200,000 Filipino tourists who visit Thailand every year and the figure is expected to increase by 10% each year.

Moreover, our recent economic data shows that Thailand?s tourism industry was able to generate an annual income of nearly 16 Billion Dollars, which constitutes about 5.3% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Lastly, it is very fortunate for Thailand that Bangkok and Chiangmai have recently been given the Best City Tourist Award by the Travel and Leisure Magazine of the United States. Meanwhile, Thailand has been rated by the Tourist Organization of Spain as one of the best honeymoon place in the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Tourism is a hugely important sector in our economy which explains why it (tourism) has evolved to be a major component of our country?s diplomacy and people-to-people contact.

In fact, the Royal Thai Embassy and Team Thailand in the Philippines and in other countries have been very active in promoting Thai tourism, culture, art, and cuisine in different parts of the Philippines, particularly in Metro Manila, Cebu, Davao, Villa Escudero, and Clark Pampanga.

The economic significance of our tourism industry is basically the reason why our government and the people of Thailand deeply appreciate foreigners who come to our country. In turn, we reciprocate our appreciation through the good services we provide as evidenced by our infrastructures and sound national policies as well as our good will to foreigners.

With this, let me reiterate my warm greetings to everyone in this symposium and I hope that I have given you a clear picture of Thai tourism industry and diplomacy.

Maraming salamat sa inyong pakikinig (Thank you very much for listening).