Can Pokemon Go Brighten Thailand's Tourism Future?
PHOTO: Beautiful Thailand. We know you're out there, Zapdos. (Photo courtesy Thinkstock)
We’ve ballyhooed Pokemon Go’s inherent value as a travel tool in the past. However, we never thought it would be officially admired by an actual tourism organization.
According to The Bangkok Post, Thailand officials are optimistic the game developed by Niantic can boost confidence that the country remains a wondrous and, above all, safe destination for travelers.
As TravelPulse’s Donald Wood reported recently and is echoed in the Bangkok Post, Hua Hin and Phuket suffered horrifying attacks recently.
As Wood writes, those events have led to a troubling downturn in travel: “Thailand’s tourism authority said that a recent string of attacks in the country could result in the loss of up to 200,000 foreign visitors and $293 million in tourism revenue this year alone.”
The Bangkok Post asserts that there is, however, a bit of optimism amid the concerning numbers.
For example, the days from Aug. 12-14 saw nearly 2 million Thai travelers still make some form of domestic trip. As the report states, that represents a healthy bump of 7.8 percent from 2015.
Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul spoke with the publication and expressed thoughts on relatively strong domestic tourism: “This reflected the fact that tourists still traveled to other areas as usual during the violent incidents.”
So where does Pokemon Go come in? According to the report, the office of Tourism and Sports Ministry will pivot to embrace the game to highlight the country’s travel value as thousands of players catch Pokemon across the wide swath of the nation.
While many locations around the world demand some in-game destinations called PokeStops get banned from the game, Thailand will tout “many historical places” that remain in the north precisely because they offer power ups as well as travel intrigue.
Kobkarn continues, “The ministry will create an infographic map and user guide for Pokemon hunters, offering locations, tips, and do's and don'ts for tourists.”
If you want a tour of a northern area then get excited for a promised package developed by the Association of Domestic Travel that should run in the area of 10,000 baht (or about $290) for three days and two nights dedicated to transforming Pokemon also-rans into magical masters while you cleverly uncover the riches the area has to offer.
And, in conjunction with the Pokemon ploy, officials will also institute various safety measure to educate and promote the well-being of visitors from all over the world.
Kobkarn explains: “We hope foreign tourists will feel confident to come back to Thailand. We will be a good host and do everything to show that our country remains a safe and warm destination for them.”
Recently we heard of officials from Germany and ferry locations around the world that drew umbrage with PokeStops garnering a flood of locals and tourists intent on catching Pokemon and leveling up with in-game items.
The bad news is that Pokemon Go can develop issues for areas that might be sensitive and off limits to anyone but security officials.
However, it’s also a game that nurtures the idea to wander and experience less trodden upon locations around the globe. For a place that simply wants people to travel and see for themselves how magical and safe a place can be, a game as popular as this may be just the tool to do the trick.
More by Gabe Zaldivar
Get Travel Deals and Travel News
Recent Travel Opinions
Cruise Line & Cruise Ship
Airlines & Airports