The private sector rated the tourism policies of five of the leading political parties in the current election campaign as below expectations after they were announced to the public yesterday.
"Most of the plans are not new. Not even one party committed itself to helping tourism," said Prakit Chinamourphong, president of the Thai Hotels Association.
Charoen Wanganaond, spokesman of the Federation of Thai Tourism Associations (FETTA), expressed disappointment with the policies.
"I rated them at only 50 per cent, as nobody offered new hope to the industry," he said.
Five parties - the Democrats, Pheu Thai, Bhum Jai Thai, Chart Pattana Puea Pandin and the Civil Peace Party - participated in a seminar on "Tourism Policy ... with New Government" organised by FETTA and Post Today newspaper.
Chart Thai Pattana, which currently oversees the tourism sector, was absent from the panel.
Charoen called for the new government that comes to power after the July 3 election to focus on the tourism sector by working more closely with the private sector to drive tourism and solve current problems.
He said private businesses wanted to see the new government continue the National Tourism Agenda to enhance and develop the entire sector.
"Some other issues that the private sector would like to see [dealt with] is airport policy - single or dual airports?" he said.
Opas Netraumpai, vice president of the Thailand Incentive and Convention Association, said the parties on the panel fell short of the expectations of the private sector despite the fact that the tourism industry is an important driver of the country's economy.
Anchalee Vanich Thepabutr of the Democrat Party said it would promote 61 provinces to be tourist attractions by granting a budget of Bt6.6 billion per year for development.
The party would increase marketing to help the private sector.
She said a new act on public demonstrations was being filed and would be enforced soon, which should help bring peace to Bangkok and decrease violence.
However, the party would provide urgent measures to help private businesses in case of unexpected issues.
She also said the country would prepare for the Asean Economic Community in 2015.
"A lot of workers will flow through the region, so we should improve our human resources. Moreover, damaged tourist attractions need rebuilding."
Supachai Jaisamut, spokesman for the Bhum Jai Thai Party, said that if elected it would provide Bt100 million per year per province to encourage local administrations to develop their products and to manage their communities.
More mega-projects such as airport expansion and infrastructure are needed.
Supachai said Bhum Jai Thai would provide more financial assistance to local communities to develop tourism.
He added that local administration should have the right to use their taxes to develop their communities.
Kornpoj Asawinwichit from Chart Pattana Puea Pandin said the party would increase arrivals from emerging markets.
The party proposed a "one district one attraction" scheme to lure tourists into communities.
However, Kornpoj pointed out that political rallies were the people's right in a democratic state.
Phuvanida Kunplin of the Pheu Thai Party said it would invest in mega-projects across the country. One project would be to develop Suvarnabhumi Airport into a regional hub by increasing connecting flights.
Moreover, it would build an airport link from Bangkok to Pattaya along with dual-track high-speed trains to key provinces.
Seri Suwanpanon, leader of the Civil Peace Party, said it would maintain peace in the Kingdom to help people conduct business without internal conflicts.
"If we continue to have conflicts, there will no tourists coming in. So I would raise tourism in the national agenda," he said.
A 24-hour tourism channel is another option.