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Thailand to "Restructure from Mass Tourism"?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing tourism to Thailand. A recent article from the Bangkok Post, that is, the article is titled: Collection of B500 fee from foreigners starts next year. We have discussed this, I did another video on the "tourism tax", "tourist tax" here in Thailand. They were quoting from Yuthasak Supasorn, that is the Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand and it was noted that as part of this tax measure, quoting directly from the Bangkok Post: "Mr. Yuthasak  said the additional 200 Baht, (that's within the 500 Baht fee) will be earmarked for projects initiated by the private sector, community enterprises or social enterprises that would like to transform their business to meet the fund's strategy; helping the country restructure from mass tourism to high value or bio-, circular and green economic model; and environmentally concerned tourism." I don't have any issues with environmentally concerned tourism or bio-, circular green economic model but this notion of restructure from "mass tourism", that is concerning. Quoting further and again this is from Mr. Yuthasak, the Head of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, from him directly, quote: "The additional cost won't have an impact on tourists as we want to focus on the quality market." I don't know what to say to that. I mean to me this is an example of what happens when you get a little too detached from the realities of the situation. The fact is, in my opinion, Thailand frankly could use as much tourism revenue right now as we can get. Now I understand there are concerns folks have out there about public health and safety, okay fine. If that is the concern, that is the concern. Let's focus on that but why are we shifting our paradigm to the "quality market"? Restructuring away from mass tourism? 

As I have discussed in other videos on this channel, there is a strong argument to be made that mass tourism back in '98 after the 1997 financial crisis, had a substantial impact on helping, especially to stabilize the Thai Baht at the time. I am not going to get into the economics of all that too deeply but long story short, the Thai Baht lost a lot of value and it could have had real convertibility problems which could have led to major issues in the international markets for Thailand. A lot was going on; this is just one factor among many and I want to be very clear on that. But yeah, receipts of foreign reserves, of foreign currency coming in from mass tourists, mass tourism, had an impact. In fact I would argue probably a pretty substantial one and helped Thailand regain her footing and that was a good thing. I am just curious why we are moving away from this paradigm of "mass tourism" and who exactly are we trying to cater to here? This notion of wealthy tourists or high quality "this, that and the other" thing, high net worth individuals, VIP tourists, I have discussed a ton of this. We have discussed all the visas that they are trying to promulgate and create to kind of lure these folks in but what is wrong with a good number of middle class folks, a good number of folks that can afford a couple of weeks in Thailand and then go home? Especially willing people that want to come and be tourists and just enjoy the country and go home, why are we turning that away? Look, I understand the Immigration implications. There is a policy argument by many out there that you might want to be a little careful with Tourist Visas because you might be letting in people who ostensibly are tourists but who actually want to live there. I mean for example in the American Immigration jurisprudence, we have what is called Section 214b of the Immigration and Nationality Act to deal directly with that. Tourist Visas are not issued to folks who the Consular Officers think is not a genuine tourist basically. But that is not really what we are talking about here, we are not talking about Immigration policy to try and deflect would be immigrants, undocumented immigrants as US law calls them. No, instead we are talking about a paradigm shift away from a sector and from a method of bringing in tourists that accounted for 17 to 20% of GDP going back before March of 2020. Now I do understand, if folks are saying "hey, we just have to deal with the reality that we are not going to get the same numbers of tourists moving forward because the aftermath of all of this is just not as conducive to tourism at least for the immediately foreseeable future, I understand that. That makes sense but that doesn't again appear to be what's going on here. It appears to be an attempt at changing policy toward the type of Tourism we are looking to bring into Thailand and I hope that is not the case; let me put it that way. I hope that is not the case because I think that would be a bad way for us to go. I think it would be far better to encourage as many tourists as possible to come to Thailand, and not even that. There was a time and I think you could argue going back 10 years ago or so, before some of the more security regulated aspects of Thai Immigration, yeah there were folks, especially foreign criminals, Thai Immigration was quite worried about that. Yeah, I am not saying open up the floodgates, but this notion of going for only this small sliver of the overall tourism numbers, why are we going for that? Why not just encourage standard, middle class, perfectly good tourists, why aren't we encouraging those folks?