Maldives and Indonesia seek Thai advice on tourism

Officials from both Indonesia and the Maldives have told their Thai counterparts that they would like to learn from the Kingdom’s enormous success in tourism, as Maldivian officials said they are also seeking Thai investment in hotels and infrastructure for their own islands and resorts in the Indian Ocean.

“We want to learn to understand the greatness of Thailand in handling security, culinary, street food and homestay,” Indonesia’s Minister of Tourism Arief Yahya said during a recent visit to Bangkok.

Meanwhile, Thailand’s Tourism Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul recently met with representatives of the Maldives government and said they are asking Thai investors to build hotel and resort destinations, entertainment venues and integrated tourism facilities on 50 of its islands over the next five years.

Thailand has been a global tourism success story since the 1980s, drawing visitors from every corner of the globe and sustaining tourism growth by offering a broad menu of experiences such as adventure, sports, medical, and green tourism. Last year, the Kingdom welcomed over 32 million visitors, more than any other country in Southeast Asia, and the United Nations World Tourism Organization said recently that Thailand’s revenues from tourism are now the third highest in the world at $49.9 billion since the start of 2016.

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has declared that tourism is a core sector of his country’s economy and support for the sector will be prioritized along with agriculture and fisheries. In 2016, the archipelago hosted over 12.2 million tourists and was ranked by Britain’s The Telegraph newspaper among its“Top 20 Fastest Growing Travel Destinations in the World.”

Arief asked Indonesia’s ambassador to Thailand Ahmad Rusdi to assemble a team to study and draw lessons from Thailand’s tourism industry that could be applied to Indonesia. He noted the global popularity of Thailand’s cuisine and street food, observing that there are Thai restaurants in nearly every country in the world.

Tourism Minister Kobkarn visited the Maldives during the first week of October and met with President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, Tourism Minister Moosa Zameer. The two countries are working on a framework on cooperation to drive bilateral tourism.

“Maldivian officials have invited the Tourism and Sports Ministry to visit the country, saying it wants more Thai investors to open hotels or invest in infrastructure and construction because the country is working toward long-term growth. They also want to exchange and learn from Thailand’s tourism successes,” she said.

Three Thai hospitality companies have already opened hotels in the Maldives: Dusit International, Minor International and Centara Hotels and Resorts. Three airlines – Bangkok Airways, AirAsia and Maldivian – operate direct flights from Thailand to the Maldives.