The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is working out an action plan to develop Bangkok as an ASEAN metropolis, in preparation for the establishment of the ASEAN Community.
Emphasis is placed on development in various areas to make Bangkok a trade, investment, culture, and tourism center in this region. The action plan consists of seven areas and can be translated into action immediately.
The first area seeks to promote small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by establishing an ASEAN SME Center and data bank. The “Bangkok Brand” will be upgraded to gain more recognition, while SMEs and the “One Tambon, One Product,” or “OTOP,” products and services in Bangkok will be developed to international standards.
In the second area, Muslim tourists will be urged to visit Bangkok, where halal products and services will receive greater attention. BMA will offer language training in Malay and Arabic and provide application services for mosques and halal restaurants, as well.
In the third area, Bangkok will be developed into a center of medical services and medical tourism. The fourth area seeks to develop diverse tourism products and services. For instance, more cultural tourism sites will be developed from such Bangkok communities as Kudi Chin, Bang Lamphu, and Talat Phlu. Bangkok’s Chinatown on Yaowarat Road will be promoted as ASEAN’s Chinatown. Landscapes in various areas will be improved with more green belts.
In the fifth area, BMA will improve its services for the general public. For instance, certain public service units will stay open until 10:00 p.m. The process of local tax collection will also be expedited. The sixth area seeks to facilitate travel in the city by launching a small rail-based transportation project in the form of electric train service. Transportation routes will be constructed to connect electric train, bus, car, taxi, and boat services.
In the seventh area, Bangkok will be developed as a language-friendly city. Throughout Bangkok, maps, direction signs, and information spots, including the menus at small food shops, will be in both Thai and English. Tourism-related officials and people will be equipped with English communication skills. Chinese and Malay languages will also be taught.
BMA also plans to improve markets in the city by attaching importance to community culture. There are currently 13 markets under its supervision and another 80 operated by private companies. The city administration will build community markets in all 50 districts of Bangkok. Moreover, it is preparing to open a school to provide knowledge about business management for small traders, such as vendors and hawkers.
These projects will help enhance the potential of Bangkok residents, so that they will be able to adjust well once the ASEAN Community goes into full effect in 2015.