Thailand aims to become Asia’s sports tourism hub

Thailand has unveiled plans to position itself as destination for sports tourism.

Speaking at the Thailand Travel Mart in Chiang Mai this week, the country’s Minister of Tourism & Sports, HE Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, said that Thailand would embark on a major promotion of its “world-class sporting facilities [and] wide-ranging expertise”, in an effort to attract more regional and international sporting events.

Thailand’s Minister of Tourism & Sports, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul
Thailand’s Minister of Tourism & Sports, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul

“Thailand is entering the sports and tourism era, and I would like to invite the world to enjoy some of the many opportunities the kingdom can offer sport-loving tourists – whether you are enthusiastic amateurs, professionals or somewhere in between,” Ms Kobkarn said.

“Sports can give people a new way to enjoy and experience Thailand – playing games of golf or football with friends, taking in the scenery while cycling or running or meeting, and competing with Thai people at any of our gyms and sports centres.”

The Thai government, along with the Sports Authority of Thailand and the Tourism Authority of Thailand, will now launch a scheme to promote the country’s sports facilities, including its 300 golf courses, 50 diving clubs, nationwide cycle lanes, and 5,000 boxing rings, many of which include Muay Thai training centres.

In terms of training facilities, the country now has four national training centres in Saraburi, Nakhon Ratchasima, Songkhla and Chiang Mai, while private facilities include Thanyapura Phuket, which has two Olympic-size swimming pools and became the first Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) training centre in Southeast Asia.

“Thai people have always been crazy about sports, but now we want Thailand to be seen as a centre of sports excellence too, and for people to come here to develop their skills and enjoy their favourite sports, on land and in the water. With our outdoor lifestyles and range of destinations, we have the potential to be a magnet for sportsmen and women,” the minister concluded.

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