“That English sign, it doesn’t look right…”
“We’re in Asia.”
The Thai’s do a good job (usually), and tourism is king here, next to exporting the best rice in Asia, it’s a big money maker, creating ten of thousands of jobs, and catering to all types of visitors from backpackers to five star internationals tourists. According to 2012 figures Thailand welcomed roughly 24 million visitors with total revenue topping 35 billion USD. That’s roughly 9% of GDP.
Great food, world-class attractions, beaches, and mountains, the Land of Smiles they call it (incredibly friendly people). No, I don’t work for the Thai tourism industry, and my one minor issue is their disregard for learning the English language. Compared to other countries in Southeast Asia their command of English is poor.
Let’s face facts, like it or not English is the world language. According to recent figures English is the primary language of between 1.5 – 1.8 billion people, with nearly double that amount using English as the subsidiary official language for business, science, and education (India for example).
If a Korean tourist visits Thailand the common language spoken is usually English. This is also the case for the number one foreign visitor to Thailand: China. A good read is the October 2012 Forbes magazine article titled: English, the Language of Global Business.
“…English will maintain and grow its dominance, moving from “a marker of the elite” in years past to “a basic skill needed for the entire workforce, in the same way that literacy has been transformed in the last two centuries from an elite privilege into a basic requirement for informed citizenship.” (the British Council reports that by 2020, two billion people will be studying English).”
At the border near MaeSai the sign reads “The Northern most of Thailand.” We understand what they mean and ‘yes’ we are indeed at the Northern most ‘point’ of Thailand. The local tourism chief missed this very important word, I said to Ms. Red as we stood in front of the sign, No problem she said, in her usual mellow Thai way. No problem indeed…