The booming tourism industry in Thailand was badly damaged by the disastrous flood that occurred during the 2011 monsoon season in Thailand. Provinces located in the Chao Phraya and Mekong River basin, including Bangkok and its surrounding neighborhoods were most severely affected by the devastating flood. Over 12.8 million people were affected, and the World Bank estimated damages reached 1,440 billion bhat (Thai Currency) as of December, 2011.
Tourism, an emerging and flourishing industry in Thailand, faced colossal setback during the flood. The inflow of tourists, especially from abroad, declined drastically. Now as the situation has returned to the state of normalcy, the vibrant tourism industry of Thailand is all set to rise again. IN fact it has already gone up. The flooded areas are almost dried up. Thailand is once again ready to welcome the tourists from across the globe as usual.
I had been to Bangkok last December, 2011, as a part of Beautiful Thailand Mega Media Fam Trip jointly organized by Tourism Authority of Thailand, Thai Airways International and Kathmandu based Royal Thai Embassy. I, along with other 6 friends from Nepal spent 6 fabulous days in Thailand. The media delegates from Nepal, upon their return, brought amazing experience from this Southeast Asian Kingdom.
During our stay in Thailand, we did not feel as if we were travelling in an alien land. Except the Thai food, other things that we get over there was indeed familiar to us. The affection that the Thai people exhibited towards us was so marvelous that none of the members of the delegate recalled their respective homes back in Nepal during their entire stay in dazzling Thailand.
About 95 percent of the people in Thailand are Buddhists. After been there, I felt that Buddhism can be a binding force in gluing Nepal and Thailand. The religious affinities and commonalities between the Buddhist country (Thailand) and the birthplace of Lord Buddha (Buddha was born in Lumbini, Nepal some 2500 years ago) can be a crucial factor in promoting people to people relations between the two Asian countries.
During our trip to Thailand, I found that visiting the birthplace of Buddha once in their life-time was the dream of most of the friendly Thai people. For the rich people of Nepal (whose number is gradually increasing), Bangkok is becoming an attractive destination for shopping and pleasure seeking purposes. Tourism can provide an ample opportunity for both the countries to cooperate for mutual benefit.
Most of the tourist who visit Nepal from different corners of the world often tell that the snowy mountains and hospitality of the ever smiling Nepali population galvanized them a lot. I also share similar feeling during my visit to Thailand. From the very arrival at the Suvarnabhumi Airport situated in Bangkok till our departure back home, smiling and hospitable Thai faces fascinated all of us. "Now I have arrived at a conclusion that beside awesome natural beauty and sound infrastructural development, the hospitality of the Thai people is the greatest capital of the Tourism industry of Thailand," Mr. Pankaj Adhikari, one of my media colleagues who also was a member of the media delegate from Nepal whispered in my ear. Adhikari was perhaps more than correct in his assessment of the Thailand.
As we checked in at the Peninsula Bangkok hotel which lies at the bank of Chao Phraya River, a senior lady staff of this magnificent hotel welcomed us with a loving smile and asked us whether we have had any problem during our way to the hotel or not. She too exhibited immense eagerness to visit the birthplace of Lord Buddha. We, the media delegates from the Nepal and India spent 3 nights in this impressive hotel. Delicious food, luxurious accommodation, perfect location of the hotel at the heart of city and the superb service that the hotel provided us was memorable for all of us. We will remember this for long time to come.
There are lots of tourist destination in Thailand which can amuse all kind of tourists having different preferences and hobbies. Taking photographs with the wax figure of different celebrities in the Madame Tussauds, Bangkok can provide different pleasure to the tourists. The Siam Ocean World located in the same city is a "Living Museum" where one could see a variety of aquatic animals at one place. Siam Ocean World can be a best place for the student of Zoology who wish to study the physiological structure of the aquatic animals.
From Bangkok, we head towards Nakhon Nayo town and enjoyed kayaking, rappelling, ATV ride and other adventurous activities over there. Lord Ganesh Idol, one of the largest in Thailand located in Chachoengsao Province kept spell bound the media delegates from Nepal and India. I, being a Hindu, was so delighted to see the idol of Lord Ganesh, to whom I worship every morning at my home.
Lord Ganesh is considered as the God of intellect and sharp brain among the crowd of Hindu Gods.
The religious tolerance and spiritual integration between Buddhist and Hindus of Thailand is another peculiarity of this Southeast Asian Kingdom. Although Hindu population is very low in comparison to the Buddhist, idols and photographs of Lord Ganesh is so popular over there.
We went for night jungle safari in the Khao Yai National Park. We were astounded and with full of joy after seeing a crowd of white elephants in the calm night. The next day, we went to inspect P.B. Vineyard and GranMonte Winery. We tasted flavorsome wine in both P.B. Vineyard and GranMonte. The same day, we visited Life Park for inspection and played extreme games. There I realized that Thailand can be a dream place for those who wish to play adventurous games.
During our stay in Thailand, we also visited Chokchai Farm, the largest agro tour in Asia. This farm made us to realize that Thailand can be an ideal place for those who wish to study about the commercial farming system. The irrigation and water management system in the farm of Thailand can provide good lessons for Nepal. Nepal, the second richest country in the world in terms of possession of water resources, has yet not utilized this precious resource in order to increase its agricultural productivity.
My brief stay in Thailand was enough for me to understand that the day ahead of Thailand is definitely bright. Hard working people and abundant natural resources, including human, are the two strong pillars of the Thai nation. No matter how severely the Thai tourism industry was affected by the devastating flood, now it is all set to welcome people from both within and without. The sincerity and hard labor of the officials of Tourism Authority of Thailand must be praised for their genuine effort to promote tourism in the country. Officials of Nepal Tourism Board have many lessons to learn from their Thai counterparts if they wish to.
Long Live Nepal-Thai Relations.
(This author was in Thailand from 12th-18th December representing the Telegraph Weekly/telegraphnepal.com. This article was prepared by the author upon his return). Ed.