Focusing on green tourism, Thailand aims for 25 million visitors

Going green is now a mandate, not an option, in Thailand’s tourism sector, according to industry leaders and analysts, as tourism authorities said that they expect to welcome as many as 25 million visitors this year as the worst of the pandemic hopefully fades away.

“Sustainability is a baseline, not a trend anymore,” said Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, President of the Thai Hotel Association, at a recent tourism forum. She mentioned that in Southeast Asia, Thailand has emerged as the leader in “green hotels” in response to demand from travelers from Europe and the Americas.

Other actors have also had a role in fostering this change, she added, including online travel agents who introduced the green badge for green hotels on their platforms, and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), which requires meeting sustainable criteria to be able to join its roadshows.

TAT officials agreed that, at this point, there is no going back from going green.

“Responsible tourism and sustainability in tourism will be the main direction in the future,” said Thanet Phetsuwan, TAT Deputy Governor. He added that it would be better for Thailand’s environment for the Kingdom to host fewer tourists who spent more per person.

While that has been a goal of tourism authorities for many years, it has been a challenge considering the demand among tourists to visit the Kingdom. Thailand welcomed over 40 million tourists in 2019 before the pandemic.

Less than a year after fully reopening to visitors, the Kingdom is turning up near the top of many online lists of places tourists around the world would like to visit this year. TAT officials said that they believe between 20 and 25 million people will visit Thailand in 2023.

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