According to an article in the Bangkok Post, Thailand’s Minister of Tourism and Sports (MOTS), Kobkarn Wattanawarangun, has said the government will produce a booklet for master Pokémon players telling them how to excel at the game.
She also claims to be in talks with the maker of the game to put more rare Pokémon, pokéstops, and gyms in Thailand in order to help encourage tourism. She even went so far as to say that she hopes the ministry’s efforts can help tourists forget about the recent bombings in Hua Hin and Phuket.
I know a lot of people are thinking, “Hey, I was going to go to the Maldives this winter but, I gotta catch ‘em all so let’s go to Thailand instead.”
But before you book your flight to Thailand it should be pointed out that:
a) You can request all you want but it doesn’t mean you’re going to get it. I’m sure a lot of places would like to boost their tourism by piggybacking on the Pokémon craze but ultimately the game developer is the one who decides. And at this point they have not agreed to any of MOTS’ requests.
Until the people responsible for putting bombs in tourist areas are caught, it seems inappropriate (some might even say self serving and irresponsible) to promote large groups of people gathering in one place. What better target for terrorists than groups of Pokémon Go players all gathered in one location trying to catch a rare Pokémon.
c) Is this really the best the Thai government can come up with to boost tourism? Do they really expect people to travel thousands of miles to Thailand to play a Japanese game that can be played nearly everywhere else in the world?
d) This last one may come as a surprise to some but the Thai government has a tendency to contradict itself. While Kobkarn is asking Pokémon Go creator, Niantic to add rare Pokémon in Thailand, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) is also asking Niantic to restrict certain locations from their game so people do not go to those areas. The NBTC has even threatened an outright ban of the game unless Niantic cooperates with their no-go zone demands.
Obviously Kobkarn is just doing her job but she doesn’t need to announce every idea she has. MOTS could have rolled this out without telling the press it was designed to restore confidence in Thailand. Because, really, it does nothing to restore confidence. It’s a distraction. It’s an attempt to create noise so people forget about a very real problem that hasn’t been resolved yet.
And it’s not even a good distraction. It sounds silly and sure to have near zero impact on people’s perceptions of Thailand or their willingness to visit Thailand.