Thailand has a central geographical location, abundant natural resources and excellent waterways like the Chao Phraya River. This has long positioned Thailand for international trade with Japan, China, the rest of Asia and even the West. To enhance water transport via the nation’s many rivers, networks of canals were established around the capital of Bangkok during the 19th century.
The nation’s first railway began to be built in Bangkok in 1891, during the reign of His Majesty King Chulalongkorn, Rama V, when Thailand was known as Siam. This was one of the first rail lines in Southeast Asia. The Kingdom built several rail lines, introduced other technologies and modernized the government, as Bangkok expanded rapidly. These and other developments launched Siam into the modern era, helping it keep pace with other nations.
The decades following World War II, during the long reign of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, King Rama IX, was a period of great change in Thailand. Technology transformed every sector, including agriculture, which has traditionally been the backbone of the economy. Railroads and motorways linked every corner of the nation. Industry expanded tremendously, creating millions of new jobs.
The present era, under the reign of His Majesty King Vajiralongkorn, King Rama X, is emerging as a time of prosperity and continuing progress. Major infrastructure developments, such as the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and China’s transnational One Belt One Road, will drive the growth of industry and transport. Electric trains will connect the nation’s cities, suburbs and towns. Electric vehicles will become commonplace. New digital technologies will further transform industry. All of these changes will support Thailand’s sustainable development.
The nation’s Thailand 4.0 plan welcomes the new global era of data and automation. Going forward, digital technology will play a key role in driving Thailand’s economy and society. Government is helping implement digital transformation in key sectors such as healthcare. Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation (MHESI), Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) and Ministry of Education (MOE) are collaborating on medical innovation, for example, creating a new work platform for cooperative creation that connects the public and private sectors. Startups, entrepreneurs and researchers will be better able to collaborate to elevate innovation in this key sector. Thailand has real potential to become a medical innovation hub serving national and international needs. This effort will develop remote medical systems (telemedicine), intelligent hospitals (Hospital 4.0), precision medicine and other advanced technologies.
Technology and innovation also target the agricultural sector to boost farm productivity and farm incomes and increase production efficiency in agribusiness. For example, unmanned aircraft have great potential in farming. Known as “drones for precision agriculture,” this approach can raise crop yields, reduce costs, save time and reduce labor input. Drones can water crops, spread fertilizer, administer pesticides, detect diseased plants and allow analysis by photographic means.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is being adopted in the industrial sector to help reduce maintenance time, increase production hours and detect mechanical problems. Big data is playing a vital role in the tourism and MICE industries, which use this information to upgrade service, reduce costs and improve marketing.
Thailand is working to increase access to technology to reduce inequality. The government’s “Pracharat Net” project will extend high-speed internet into every village via fiber-optic cable. In 2018, 74,965 villages gained broadband service to stay connected to schools, municipal services and hospitals. This improved connectivity will improve quality of life and generate income for communities nationwide.
Digital technology is becoming deeply integrated into society and daily life around the world today. Thailand’s government, businesses and industry want to encourage this process here by helping the public better understand and adopt this technology. The ongoing digital transformation will help support a wide range of social and economic progress throughout the nation.
Thailand targets development of Smart Cities that will help people throughout the nation to better access and use all kinds of information and services. This will increase efficiency in public administration. Each Smart City will feature digital platforms covering seven important dimensions that will
1. Increase business and investment opportunities to support the Smart Economy.
2 . Develop modern transportation and travel systems to support Smart Mobility.
3. Provide access to education services both near and far to support Smart People.
4. Promote good health, safety, quality of life and happiness under the Smart Living concept.
5. Develop information systems and government service systems for transparency in accessing data for Smart Governance.
6. Manage resources systematically, without harming the environment, to support a Smart Environment.
7. Manage energy efficiently and ensure sufficient energy access for all, to attain the goal of Smart Energy.
To turn this policy into practice in each area, the Thai government has appointed a Smart City Steering Committee, chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister (General Pravit Wongsuwan). Secretary of the Committee will be the Office of Digital Economy Promotion (depa), which has the duty and authority to propose a draft strategy and master plan so that Thailand’s Smart City development will be in line with the nation’s overall development direction. depa will integrate, monitor, evaluate and provide consultation for effective development of the Smart City program.
Thailand is famous among travelers around the world, and more and more visitors want to come to experience Thai hospitality for themselves. With its unique identity, Thailand offers world-class cuisine and destinations, marvelous cultural experiences and charming traditions. Thailand also stands out for the quality and variety of its service providers in travel, accommodations and medical tourism.
Thailand’s tourism offering will reach a new level as the nation enriches it with digital technology. This transformation will help our travel sector’s people, businesses and government services connect with people all over the world. Combine this with the charm of Thailand’s people — with their smiles, sense of caring and warm hospitality — and you’ll understand why the travel industry is such a vital part of the nation’s economy. In this way especially, Thai people are at the heart of the country’s mobility, charming people around the world and welcoming them one and all.