In Conversation with Mr. Chalit Manityakul – Thai Ambassador to India

In Conversation with Mr. Chalit Manityakul – Thai Ambassador to India

Chalit Manityakul : ‘We will try our best to facilitate our Indian friends’ visit to Thailand’

In Conversation with TnH, The Ambassador of Thailand to India H.E. Mr. Chalit Manityakul recently spoke to Srishti Rai about cross cultural exchanges between India and Thailand, his favorite destination in India and how Thailand plans to welcome more and more Indian tourists. H.E. Mr. Manityakul was formerly the official Thai Ambassador to Republic of Egypt and has previously served as the Third Secretary and the Second Secretary at the Royal Thai Embassy in New Delhi. Excerpt from the conversation.

How has been the year 2015 for relationships between Thailand and India?
I must say I want to thank our Indian friends for continuously visiting Thailand and supporting Thailand for years. I am a personally a Thai citizen who has loved India for over 30 years now. My fondness began ever since I was first posted to this beautiful country in 1983. I had been longing for my return to India and just last year I was posted as the Thai Ambassador to India. My entire family has come here: my wife, my ten-year-old son and me. We all love living here.

What are your favourite destinations in India?
This is very interesting question. I think one cannot cover all the destinations in India even in ten years. It is so vast and each destination is unique. However, I have still managed to visit several places during my first assignment and now for my new assignment. However, my favorite place has to be Bodh Gaya in Bihar; it is one of the most significant centers for Buddhism. It was under the Bodhi Tree here that Lord Gautama Buddha obtained enlightenment. Other places, which really fascinated me, were the Ajanta and Ellora Caves. More recently, I travelled up north to Leh in Ladakh. I have to admit I have travelled quite extensively but this is one place that just took my breath away. It is so stunning, amazing, and unique; I believe it would be hard to find a destination like this anywhere in the world.

What are the must go to destinations for Indians travelling to Thailand?
So far, Indians seem to prefer the southern part of Thailand. Phuket is one of the conventionally preferred destinations by Indian tourists. But Thailand has a gamut of destinations to offer, there are so many islands like Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Railay are still not included in Indian itineraries. I encourage all Indians to visit, explore and discover these destinations. Furthermore, I promise on behalf of my colleagues at the Thai embassy that we will try our best to facilitate our Indian friends’ visit to Thailand.

Thailand is one of the first few countries to allow visa on arrival for Indian Tourists but what other initiatives is the country taking to promote bilateral tourism and trade between the two countries?
We are trying to aid the visa process and boost the number of applications daily. We have outsourced visa matters to another company that will expedite the submission of the visa applications and the efficiency of the visa services. We made a decision to outsource the visa process outside our premises considering if you come in to the main Thai embassy office there are many security restrictions to be adhered too. Since, we redistributed this responsibility to a dedicated professional company to handle we can expand our services and expedite the processing of the visas. We are focusing more on educating the Thai people of the importance of Indian travellers so they are better equipped to provide the deserved hospitality to our Indian friends. We are making many efforts to inform them that our Indian friends are our valued guests and they should be welcomed accordingly.

What message would you like to convey to Indians on behalf of Thailand?

We would like to say Thailand is no stranger to India and vice versa. The countries have been connected not for years or decades but for centuries. Even our lanugues, Thai and Hindi, are similar. Thai has adopted Sanskrit into its dialect for example; we too call the sun Surya. So I would like to say we are alike by language, way of life, culture and even religion. For example, we both have the Ramayana and we have Buddhism, which originated in India. In a nutshell, I would like to say that our countries are relatives and that when our Indian friends visit Thailand they will feel at home.

Your country recently won an award at the Travel and Hospitality Award show. How does it feel?
I appreciate that your magazine recognized our country and believed we were worthy of the award. I am proud of my country fellow company, TAT, for promoting our destination and I am thankful to our Indians friends to choose us. I am sure this will not be the last award or recognition. We have enjoyed close relations with India in the past but it is beginning of an even more understanding era. We would like to welcome Indians from all parts of the country and from all walks of life to visit us and help build this relationship.

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