The tourism industry is currently one of Thailand's largest income-earners.
In China, too, the travel and tourism sector is experiencing tremendous growth and has become one of the world's most promising emerging markets both as a popular global travel destination and as Asia's largest source of outbound tourists. Shandong, with a population of over 90 million and the country's eighth highest per capita income, is an important economic zone.
In an attempt to tap the potential of China's second most populous province, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has just signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Shandong Provincial Tourism Administration (SPTA) to work within a framework of friendship and recognize the mutual benefits of closer tourism co-operation.
Representing TAT at the MoU signing was TAT Governor Mrs. Phornsiri Manoharn, who expressed confidence that the new Sino-Thai agreement will be sustainable and draw a significant influx of tourism, trade and investment traffic from China's eastern province.
Jinan and Qingdao, the province's two major cities, boast transport links to both Japan and Korea. Furthermore, the city of Qingdao is home to two of the country's best-known brand names: Tsingtao, China's best-selling beer, and electrical appliance giant, Haier. With regard to Thailand, statistically, approximately 300,000 tourists from Shandong and nearby provinces visit the country annually.
"Given that the total number of arrivals from China is a little over 1 million, Shandong has a particularly strong potential for growth that we can't overlook. We want to welcome and impress these visitors with world-renowned Thai hospitality and create in them a yearning to come back," noted Mrs. Phornsiri.
Meanwhile, the SPTA will also work to lure more outbound Thais to the province, where the local tourism industry is enjoying a period of unprecedented growth. By joining hands at this time, the two parties look forward to scaling new heights in tourism co-operation, capitalizing on and complementing each other's strengths in various sectors of the industry. Over the long term, the new agreement should make a significant contribution to the progress and prosperity of the tourism sector in both Shandong and Thailand.
SPTA, represented at the signing ceremony by Mr. Yu Chong, Director of the Shandong Provincial Tourism Administration, will co-operate with TAT through a number of efforts that include tourism promotion, regular information exchanges, annual visits by both sides to assess progress, and periodic get-togethers to set new directions and goals. The parties will advise their respective governments to include tourism as one of the key areas for Sino-Thai co-operation so as to further promote the co-operation and exchanges.
"Thailand is a destination of fertile tourism resources and as far as I'm concerned, Chinese people, especially those from Shandong, are eager to visit Thailand," the Director of SPTA said adding that Thailand is normally the first ideal overseas destination for Shandong locals.
Signed on June 19, 2008, this Memorandum of Understanding will remain in effect for a period of five years, after which time it may be extended for a further period to be agreed upon by the parties.