Target tourism to drive growth – former Thai Dy PM

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By 2017-09-14

Sri Lanka's household consumption to GDP ratio and urbanization are one of the lowest in Asia, former UN Conference for Trade & Development (UNCTAD) Secretary General (SG) and Thai Deputy Premier Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi said speaking at a function in Colombo, yesterday (13).

One way to boost income levels is by growing tourism. Thailand entertains some 35 million tourists annually with this industry showing a yearly growth level of 10 per cent, he said.

Panitchpakdi said that the company he works for, Central Group derives 70-80 per cent of their earnings from tourists. Sri Lanka should not just strive to be a tourism hub, but should also have the capacity to retain such visiting tourists, he said.

He said that one of the ways to enhance retail competitiveness is by allowing new groups to come in.

These new groups will also source their products locally. The Thai Deputy Premier said that when he was the Thai Commerce Minister some 20 years ago, he opened up Thailand's retail sector despite competition.

He said that the first five to 10 years was difficult. But the success in Thailand's opening up the retail sector to the rest of the world was ensuring that it was the consumer who benefited from such an action and also by having fair competition laws, not favouring one group over another.

Panitchpakdi said that Thailand was the global leader in seafood exports. This was possible due to clear and factual labelling.
That helped the Thai seafood exports to be acceptable to the Japanese authorities at the expense of other seafood exporting nations whose labelling was poor.

Striking a positive note, he said that Sri Lanka's retail sales to GDP ratio at 13-15 per cent of GDP are more than Indonesia or Malaysia and slightly less than Thailand's. The forum was organized by the Sri Lanka Retailers' Association. (PA)

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