Prof. Wipada Kunavitikul, Ph.D., director of research planning for the project “Proactive preparation of Thailand to become a quality health tourism destination” under funding support from the Program Management Unit for Competitiveness (PMUC), (Science and Innovation Promotion Fund),
said that the overview of the research series is a study to find ways to develop Thailand into a health tourism destination. It consists of sport tourism (Sport Destination) such as golf group, marathon group, cycling group, and Thai boxing and spa tourism both in the north and the south of the county. The ultimate goal is to develop a standardized spa service model.
“This is the second year that researchers have been working continuously, and found that, to stimulate tourism, it is necessary to have in-depth information to use in planning strategies in order to determine the direction for the country’s tourism industry. A select number provinces participating in this experimental stage include Phuket, Chiang Mai, and Ratchaburi, and it is hoped that this project will help encourage entrepreneurs to prepare their own businesses after the Covid-19 crisis which had tremendous affects on the tourism industry.”
In addition, Prof. Dr. Wiphada also added that, a summary view of the research work, as well as an analysis of Social Return on Investment (SROI) of the research project showed favorable ROI from the societal as well as economic perspective stemming from secondary benefits from having tourists coming into the country, which helps to stimulate local economies in the process.
“We have new plans and skill sets which are applied to sports and spas, which is a new form of skill sets that can be applied right away, for example, for opening a spa business. what should entrepreneurs take into account, both in terms of supply and demand? Or what process should a golf course operator have to achieve the desired results? There was also a social impact analysis. It was found that whether running a spa business or organizing a marathon, it also creates social rewards, in additional to financial value.”
At the same time, Prof. Dr. Wiphada gave additional suggestions for the aforementioned research project, namely to invite the public sector to offer assistance to entrepreneurs before opening the country, such as providing access to funding sources, attractive interest rates, as well as promoting and encouraging entrepreneurs to reskill and upskill, according to their roles and responsibilities, for entrepreneurs and their employees in order to support future business growth.
In addition, due to the severe COVID-19 virus epidemic around the world, the current tourism situation has changed significantly. Therefore the program to proactive prepare Thailand to be a quality health tourism destination has been adjusted to suit the changing situation, in line with new research results. There was also a mobilization and exchange of ideas among spa and sports business operators, as well as qualified experts and related agencies, leading to the development of innovation in the country’s health tourism industry, and preparing Thailand to be a health tourism destination, helping to create a positive impact on the economy, society and the environment in the long term.