While many nations today may be dodging from Olympic bids thanks to the high costs, public disapproval and the breathtaking number of requirements the International Olympic Committee (IOC) tasks prospective bidders with, at least one nation would appear to be actively courting Olympic attention.
Thailand, and in particular its capital city Bangkok, recently concluded a four-day conference attended by about 1,000 members of the National Olympic Committees all over the world. The goal was to showcase Thailand as a “prime example of the link between tourism and sports,” according to a blog on the Web site TravelMole. Delegates visited sports stadiums in Bangkok as well as popular tourist sites such as Wat Pho, the Royal Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The event was organized by the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
"Sports and tourism are now becoming increasingly inter-linked. Thailand has hosted numerous important sports events over the years, especially the Asian Games," said tourism and sports minister, Mrs. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul.
Thailand is actively courting the IOC to become a short-list destination for either the 2024 or 2028 Summer Olympic Games. Some critics have pointed out that the nation’s weather (monsoon rains) and political corruption make it unsuitable as a host for an Olympic Games.
The push for sporting events is part of a greater initiative to beef up Thailand tourism. The nation recently concluded a successful World Travel Market participation campaign with a strong delegation of 54 Thai tourism companies including 44 accommodation companies, four tour operators and six other related offices, according to Travel Daily Media. The nation has also launched a global marketing and promotion campaign under the slogan “Discover Thainess.”
The campaigns are aimed at remaking Thailand’s image after political unrest that led to a suspension of the country’s democratically elected government earlier this year. International tourism, one of Thailand’s greatest economic assets, remains off this year in the wake of the media-saturated unrest.
The country will be able to test its efforts this month as the host of the fourth-annual Asian Beach Games in Phuket. The Games, which will take place from November 14 to November 23, will cover 26 sports including beach volleyball and basketball and are expected to attract 2,700 athletes.
Thailand itself has been participating in Olympic Games since 1952. Since then, Thai athletes have taken home a total of 21 medals, mostly notably in boxing. The country made an unsuccessful bid for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, which ultimately took place in Beijing.