Tourism numbers and visa procedure are linked, says Søren Leerskov, Managing Director for Asia/Pacific of the Scandinavian Tourist Board. This is not about Thailand, this is the case anywhere in the world, he says.
“When tourists applying for a visa to Denmark must show up for a personal interview at the Danish Embassy in Bangkok it is a deterrent against visiting Denmark,” Søren Leerskov says.
“When China tightened the visa application procedure during the Olympics, we saw how many Danish tourists and businessmen decided not to go to China. Asians are not different in that sense. The moment it becomes troublesome to go somewhere, tourists look for alternatives.”
In Thailand, any tour agent would like their clients to have a nice experience. So instead of risking to loose the client, they will simply suggest the tourist to go to another destination where they will not be put through this experience, he adds.
Søren Leerskov says, it is still too early to see if the new visa application centre, VFS, will make a difference.
“Let’s see. But I think it is reasonable to expect that when a business minded Indian owned company like VFS is in charge of this process, it will likely have a positive effect,” he adds..
500.000 for promotion
Scandinavian Tourism Board – STB – has for many years not been able to support the promotion of tourism to the Scandinavian countries. But this has now changed.
“This year we have allocated half a million Danish kroner to tourism promotion in Thailand. We channelled our activities through Axel Blom and Innovation Norway and the funds will promote combination trips to primarily Norway with auxiliary destinations in Denmark and Sweden.”
“The funds will support promotional collateral and network activities to increase leisure tourism and incentive tours in very much the same way as is the case with Japan and China”
All over Asia, Scandinavia is marketed as a combination experience.
“An Asian person traveling as far abroad as Europe would like to have a multiple country experience. Therefore, the 500.000 Danish kroner that we will spend in Thailand this year, will benefit Denmark too, because a trip will typically include three nights in Norway and two-three night in Denmark or Sweden,” Søren Leerskov explains.
Workshop in January
All the Scandinavian countries channel all funds in support of tourism promotional activities through the STB, so the Swedish and Norwegian Embassies do not have more money to spend on participating in the yearly STB promotional event in Bangkok than the Danish Embassy, Søren Leerskov explains.
“I know that Axel Blom invited the Danish Ambassador to participate in the workshop that was held in January this year,” Søren Leerskov says. But he adds that he doesn’t see it as a problem, that the Ambassador did not have time to participate.
“The Thai tour operators or for instance the management of Thai Airways are not impressed with being introduced to an Ambassador. They would value it much more if we could introduce them to important Thai people. I think that is the same in Denmark – we think our own government people are more important than the ambassador of a foreign country.”