ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Japanese find refuge in Thailand
Thailand has become a major investment venue for Japan, attracting direct investment of more than 719 billion baht from 2003 to 2010. The Japanese Chamber of Commerce recently called on Thailand’s Board of Investment to speed up approval of urgent production shifts to Thailand after manufacturing at home was damaged by the natural disasters.
Several cities in Thailand, notably in the cooler North, are expected to become popular destinations for Japanese retirees whose number is increasing in line with an ageing population. Anake Srishevachart, president of the Thai-Japan Tourism Association says demand for long-stay breaks among Japanese has increased markedly since the tsunami struck.
Sansern Ngaorungsi, the TAT's deputy governor for Asia and the South Pacific, says Chiang Mai has 3,000 to 3,500 long-stay Japanese tourists.
Chiang Mai also has many facilities to service them, particularly hospitals with Japanese translators. The city scores highly for its low cost of living, he said.
If Japanese people and companies need to go outside their country, Thailand is their best destination as the kingdom has similar politics and religion, lower living expenses, abundant food and kind people, says Seita Hagiwara, managing director of Japanese property agent Siam Kotobuki Co.
"There will be an upward trend in the number of Japanese manufacturers, factories and companies relocating to other destinations after the disaster," he said.
Many Japanese regard Thailand as the best place to stay. Despite political turbulence in recent years, Japanese people were only slightly affected and considered it a short-term problem, he said.
In the first three months of this year, the number of Japanese moving to Thailand slightly increased as automobile manufacturers such as Nissan and Toyota expanded investment here.
Mr. Hagiwara expects the trend to continue for the next three to six months. He expects more Japanese families to move to Thailand, particularly Bangkok, based on the number of student enrolments at the Thai-Japanese Association School in the Rama IX area.
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