The participation of President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach, President of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) H.E.Sheikh Ahmad Fahad Al-Sabah, and Heads of State of multiple countries in the opening ceremony of the 5th Asian Beach Games (ABG5) 2016 is a golden opportunity for Vietnam and Da Nang in particular to develop tourism and economy.
On the occasion, reporters from the Sai Gon Giai Phong Sports newspaper had an interview with Ms. Kobkarn Suriyasat Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports of Thailand who successfully organised the ABG4 in 2014, about Vietnam’s tourism development opportunities through this continental-level event.
Reporter: What do you think about Vietnamese fans?
Minister KOBKARN WATTANAVRANGKUL: They are so wonderful! I’m very glad to see Vietnamese people enjoy the match. Muay is a special sport, not only for competition but also an art form. When I see the warm support of local fans for the host team, I can feel their strong love for this sport. I feel very happy, and I hope more players will join this game as it teaches people self-esteem, discipline and other good meanings.
At present, locals in over 100 countries are playing Muay. I hope this martial art will appear at important sport Games such as Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games), Asian Games, and even Olympic Games. Though Muay is currently the “non-Olympic” sport, it has the biggest number of participants in the world, not only in Asia and Europe but also America.
Reporter: The Muay match today saw the presence of a special guest – IOC President Thomas Bach. What do you think about this?
It’s so wonderful when President Thomas Bach attended the event, which was included in his official programme. After several days of engagement in the ABG5, I found that Muay is the most warmly supported sport from the audience.
Reporter: As the Minister of Tourism and Sports of Thailand – the host of ABG4 2014, what do you think about Vietnam’s organisation of this year’s event?
The host Vietnam did very well with standard-quality material infrastructure and delicious food. I’m afraid my atheletes will gain weight.
Reporter: Thailand is a tourism-leading ASEAN country. During your stay in Da Nang City, do you have any suggestions for the Vietnamese central city to develop tourism?
I used to arrive in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and this is the first time I have come to Da Nang City. I’m very impressed at the city’s development. The Asian Beach Games is really a brillant opportunity for the city to develop sports and tourism. If you can show what you are doing at this event, I believe that tourism will continue to thrive in the future. Like Thailand, when we can develop Bangkok, Chiangmai or Phuket, we will think about the development of other destinations. Sharing revenues for several satellite cities is a good strategy that we are carrying out. If Da Nang City could develop, then I think you should think about the development of Hue or surrounding cities.
Reporter: Thai tourism sector is developing a strategy to connect cities in Asia with Bangkok being the centre to enable tourists from Europe and America to travel to multiple places. So what are the outcomes of connecting with Vietnamese tourism industry?
We have met and discussed with representatives from tourism sector in Da Nang, Hue and Ho Chi Minh City. We are implementing the strategy “Two countries – One destination”. Airlines also serve as bridges to develop this strategy. For example, Vietjet Air is conducting a direct route from Ho Chi Minh City to Phuket, Thailand. This is good because there are already many air routes to Bangkok, so it needs direct flights to other Thai tourism cities such as Chiangmai or Chiangrai.
Dr. Sakchye Tapsuwan, President of the International Federation of Muay Amateur:
“After witnessing the enthusiasm from Muay fans at ABG5, IOC President Thomas Bach told us that through this match he could understand the attractiveness of this sport in the international competition arena. The International Muay federation only needs to prepare all necessary dossiers to bring this game into the list of Olympic Games.”