“Sync – up with Thailand” by Mr. Kalin Sarasin, Chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade of Thailand
On 18-19 Sep. 2019, Mr. Kalin Sarasin, Chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade of Thailand, visited Sri Lanka to participate in a business forum organized by the Sri Lanka - Thailand Business Council (SLTBC). He paid a courtesy call, along with Amb. Chulamanee, upon Mr. Malik Samarawickrema, Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade of Sri Lanka, and delivered a keynote address titled “Sync – up with Thailand” to a group of approximately 120 Sri Lankan businessmen at the Galle Face Hotel.
This event is a follow up to the signing of the MOU between SLTBC and the Thai Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade in February 2019. Key take away from the keynote address are as follows:
1. Mr. Kalin introduced the organizational structure of the Thai Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade, and highlighted the role of the Thai private sector in Thailand’s economic development, which comprises of 3 main areas, namely 1) working with the gov. in key committees and as part of the public/private collaboration framework 2) encouraging the gov. to change its role from a regulator to a facilitator/promotor/supporter of businesses and 3) voicing out outdated rules, suggesting and implementing new policies to improve ease of doing businesses.
2. Key strategic moves for Thailand in 2019-2020 will be on improving competitive advantages/ease of doing businesses and reducing inequality. Currently, 55.6% of Thailand’s GDP comes from the service sector (which employed 51.5% labor force). As such, the focus is on promoting high value added services such as tourism, fintech, etc. Sri Lanka could draw a lesson from the Thai economy and its policy on service sector as 58.6% of its GDP comes from this sector.
3. On tourism, Thailand attracted 38.27 foreign tourists last year with estimated spending of 65 billion USD. Total value chain for the Thai tourism sector is around 3.1 trillion Baht, which comes mostly from accommodation, shopping and food. A check list for tourism success include: safety/security, hygiene, convenience, connectivity.
4. To boost tourism, differentiation (uniqueness and packaging) is essential, particularly on innovative products and services, value of money, and selling points. An example from Thailand’s experience is to segment target customers into groups such as culture, adventure, sports, food, etc. Social media is an important tool. Tourists could be encouraged to 1) spend more through locally available goods and services, 2) stay longer though more activities, and 3) revisit through impressive storytelling.
5. Other novel approaches to tourism development being implemented in Thailand include cultural economy (ไทยไท่), circular economy, and digital tourism platform. Inclusive tourism is cited as a crucial component of successful tourism development that benefits businesses outside tourism value chain.