GOOGLE Street View's (GSV) launch in Thailand last Friday will provide tourists and travel companies with a new tool to explore and promote the destination.
GSV, a technology featured in Google Maps and Google Earth, provides street-level panoramic views of a location or landmark.
Thailand is the second South-east Asian nation, after Singapore, to offer the service, which was introduced in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket, and is set to expand to other cities and UNESCO World Heritage sites.
“To be able to feature in Google Street View, this is a step ahead for us,” said Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor, Suraphon Svetasreni. “If you talk about our competitors in the region and worldwide, countries are doing everything possible to woo tourists, that’s why Thailand has to grab opportunities.”
“In Thailand, we have so many different places and activities that can be publicised through this channel. (GSV) opens up opportunities and stimulates curiosity for travellers who are looking for something different,” he added.
GSV is expected to benefit tourists and tourism businesses alike, through providing a means to explore destinations and plan itineraries without having to visit beforehand.
“Everyone is using the Internet to plan their trip. Being able to see the destination you are visiting is a good advantage,” said Ariya Banomyong, country business manager for Google Thailand.
Tourism businesses can also embed the service on their websites, giving potential customers a starting point to preview the area being considered for travel.
Suraphon said: “In Bangkok, Street View will benefit hotels in terms of exposure and how to find the location, as well as other services like restaurants. In Phuket, there are many natural attractions and viewpoints to see, and in Chiang Mai there are many historical sights and temples to explore.”
As part of Thailand's My Miracle campaign, TAT has launched an online poll inviting Thais to nominate and vote for their favourite locations within the country. The top ten locations will be mapped by GSV and presented in a special collection to promote travel.