The Ministry of Tourism and Sports is prepared to register tourism professionals to facilitate the mobility of tourism personnel within the region after the launch of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in late 2015.
The Ministry expects that 7,500-10,000 tourism-related personnel from four divisions will be registered during 2015. The four divisions include housekeeping, front office, food production, and food and beverage services.
ASEAN Member States have signed the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) on Tourism Professionals, which is one of the key ASEAN tourism initiatives to support the establishment of AEC. The MRA comprises six divisions – housekeeping, front office, food production, food and beverage services, travel consultants and tour operators.
In Thailand, about 2,550 personnel in the housekeeping division have attended training and passed the tests on competency standards. They should be ready for the free flow of ASEAN professionals soon. As for national trainers and national assessors in Thailand for the divisions of front office, food production, and food and beverage services, there are now only 20 for each division. The Ministry of Tourism and Sports is accelerating the production of 600 more trainers and assessors this year. With the increasing number, Thailand is likely to produce at least 5,000 tourism personnel in the three divisions in 2015.
There is currently one assessment center for personnel in the housekeeping division. The Tourism Professional Certification Board is expected to meet on 11 May 2015 to consider issuing more licenses for additional assessment centers. The meeting is also expected to allow the start of standards assessment for other divisions in June this year.
As for personnel in the two remaining divisions, namely travel consultants and tour operators, the training of master trainers and master assessors at the ASEAN level will be completed later this year. After that they will further provide training for personnel in these divisions in Thailand.
Regarding the tourism situation, a report from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports shows that from January to March 2015, international tourism arrivals in Thailand came to 7.8 million, an increase of 23 percent over the same period of 2014. During the three-month period, the largest groups of foreign visitors came from China, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea, Russia, and Japan. International tourist arrivals in Thailand came to 24.8 million during January to December 2014. The number represents a decline of 6.6 percent against 26.5 million registered in 2013.