AMID THE growing number of tourists, the Department of Tourism (DOT) is launching a nationwide scheme to restore tourist attractions that are starting to deteriorate and to improve tourist safety and convenience in line with the tourism policy.
Anan Wongbenjarat, Director General of Department of Tourism, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, said Tourism Minister Weerasak Kowsurat stressed the urgency to improve and repair the facilities at popular tourist sites across the country to better serve the visitors. “At present, DOT has several tourist site restoration projects passed on by agencies and organisations in all parts of the country. Together, the proposed projects involve a budget of more than Bt20,000 million,” he said.
Nature of the projects, he added, should focus on work coordination among concerning agencies, safety, and universal design to serve all groups of people of all ages.
The tourist site restoration scheme is also part of Minister Weerasak's policy to expand community-based tourism in less travelled provinces by improving the tourism facilities to increase local income. The policy is also in line with the government's sustainable tourism.
According to Anan, DOT is currently considering 2,639 projects: 796 projects in 22 main tourism cities and 1,843 projects in 55 secondary tourism provinces. DOT, he said, is targeting popular tourist attractions in secondary tourism provinces and the attractions in the outskirts of the main tourism cities together with those near the airports in addition to the repair of rundown tourist sites.
He added that a special committee has been set up to study the feasibility of the project proposals as well as to promote coordination among state agencies. They include Provincial Tourism Offices in 76 provinces, Forest Department, Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP), Ministry of Culture, Department of Cultural Promotion, Department of Fine Arts, Department of Highways, Department of Rural Roads, Marine Department, Department of Agricultural Extension, Department of Agriculture, Office of Agricultural Economics, Irrigation Department, Community Development Department, Department of Local Administration, Office of the Royal Development Projects Board, Department for Development of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine, the Army, and the Navy.
Meanwhile, the DOT is also launching several other projects to improve tourism services and safety. The projects involve, for instance, the beefing up of safety at beaches by increasing the number of lifeguards, rescue helicopters, increasing beach cleanliness by using robots, protecting coral reefs by increasing the number of buoys, improving roads to tourist sites, training tourism personnel, increasing clean toilets under WC OK campaigns, building more ramp slopes, and developing niche tourism in museums, nature, and temples.