Thailand gets 24 million tourists a year. The Philippines gets only four. Why is Thailand so successful? The answer is simple: they promote like crazy. They have been doing it for decades now. When I spoke to my Filipino friends why not enough tourists come, the answers were:
“We don’t have the infrastructure”.
Neither did Thailand. They built it as tourists came. If the tourists complained, they dismissed the complaints, uttered their famous “mai pen rai“- no sweat, and made light of the situation. They continued promoting in spite of the shortcomings.
“We’re a dangerous country”.
So is Thailand. Kidnappings, murder of tourists, swindling and cheating are endemic. The traffic is unbridled. Murder for hire is just as bad as in the PH. Again, the Thais would dismiss those, utter: “mai per rai” and continue inviting more and more people by posting billboards around the world, TV commercials, and creating catchy slogans such as ” The Most Exotic Country in Asia”, “The Land of Smiles” and other exaggerations.
When the tourists complained that it was not the most exotic, and that most people were not smiling, again, the Thais would deny everything, dismiss the complaints and blame the tourists for not understanding the Thai culture.
And speaking of danger, the US is also a dangerous country getting what? $54 million a year?
“We don’t have enough attractions”.
That applies to Thailand, really. Outside of the relatively few temples, the cities are grimy and ugly. A lot of the country is dry, and the forests have been cut down. Some elephants, some crocodiles, lots of go-go bars. Some islands. Not much more.
Many foreigners who went to Thailand felt deceived. Again, the Thais did their “mai pen rai“, and continued their relentless promotion.
In the Philippines, the people are way friendlier and more hospitable than the Thais. They are more honest overall. They are not as money hungry ( and maybe, it’s a bad thing) The country is far more beautiful.
There’s just not enough promotion. That’s all.
Not much more so than the Thais. About the same. If not them being worse. Most Thais cannot even speak English, and mistakes are frequent. When a customer gets angry at a Thai because the Thai made a mistake or created a delay which caused loss to the customer, the Thais would deviously blame the customer, yell at them and dismiss and deny the whole thing. It’s the SE Asian thing. A Thai is always right.
“We have many swindlers and thieves”.
Seemingly way less than Thailand. In Thailand, it’s very hard to find honest people. And they cheat and overcharge mainly foreigners, especially white people. They love other Thais way more and cheat them way less. Filipinos scammers target both Filipinos and foreigners, the Thais rarely target each other. And thievery is just as bad.
But they still did well.
To summarize: the Thais employed the following strategies:
- Created an exaggerated image of the country and romanticized its people and culture- and promoted it all ruthlessly.
- They built infrastructure simultaneously as the tourists came. Something similar to the Japanese “Just-In-Time” system.
- They dismissed criticism, denied everything, made light of it and got angry at the customer. Then, they silently improved and invited yet more tourists. A sucker is born every minute, so is a starry-eyed tourist.
The only thing that is better in Thailand is the food.
But they sure know how to promote themselves as the best country in the world to visit. They also promote their retirement industry very heavily.
Tourism is money for nothing, really. It creates a cash flow that is rarely affected by the internal inefficiencies of a society, and employs millions directly and indirectly. You just need to promote no matter what.
Originally posted in Facebook by, David Kessel