Could changing times bring a new kind of tourism to Thailand?
2020, or at least its first few months, will probably go down in history as one of the most disastrous periods for tourism. Yet while the majority of planes remain grounded, this is the perfect moment to take stock and reflect.
That’s particularly the case in Thailand. Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket consistently feature among the most popular Asian tourist destinations among western travellers, and there are predictions that tourism revenue could be down by as much as 50 per cent in the first half of the year.
In order to bring things back with a bang, it seems certain that Thailand will revisit what has been a prickly topic over the years. Could we finally be on the verge of seeing the nation introduce its first entertainment complex?
The rise and rise of gaming
Thai residents enjoy gaming as much as the visitors. In recent weeks, we have all been largely restricted to doing so in cyberspace, but the number of people checking out the best online gambling website reviews for Thai เว็บพนันออนไลน์ ที่ดีที่สุด demonstrates that playing online is wildly popular. When the dust settles, Thai residents will be keen to get out and about, while tourists from farther afield will be flocking to Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
Right now, anybody from either camp is forced to jump on a coach and take a trip from Lumpini Park in Bangkok to Poipet in neighbouring Cambodia. The journey takes around four hours each way, and while it’s definitely an interesting experience, the sheer popularity of these buses (they run every 30 minutes) gives a clue as to just how profitable an enterprise in Bangkok itself would be.
A new era
Thailand is just embarking on a new period in its history, following the passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 2016. His reign lasted more than 70 years, and he was succeeded by his only son, Vajiralongkorn. Thailand’s tenth monarch is a renowned playboy, and although any change is likely to be gradual, the time could be right for revisiting the question of entertainment in Thailand.
It’s a topic that has been raised time and again by government ministers, and with increasing regularity over the past decade. Doubtless, they have more than half an eye on the popularity of online gaming, the busloads of people travelling the Poipet every day and the success of neighbouring resort Macau.
Economics lecturer Visanu Vongsinsirikul believes it is a question of when, not if, Thailand gives formal approval for its first venture. Proposals have existed in draft form for more than a decade, with initial plans drawn up for one resort in the Greater Bangkok area and another in Phuket.
In Singapore, one US-based operator poured $5.5 billion into the construction of an entertainment complex. The organisation has held high-level talks with Thai government officials, offering to make a similar investment in Bangkok. When the current situation calms down, that will surely prove too tempting an offer to refuse in order to rekindle tourist interest in Thailand’s capital city.
The editorial unit