Addressing a media briefing at the Asean Tourism Forum last Friday (Jan 22), Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Dr Yuthasak Supasorn outlined an ambitious strategy to expand tourism revenue, while promoting options that combine Thailand’s top destinations with travel opportunities in neighbouring countries.
He also announced that TAT would host its premier travel trade show, Thailand Travel Mart Plus 2016, in the northern city of Chiang Mai and open the event to Asean members in support of the Asean Economic Community.
Up until this year the country’s flagship trade event has been held in Bangkok.
The governor’s strategy touches on strengthening niche tourism particularly the weddings and honeymoon market in Asia and green tourism to a global audience.
Achieving a quality, balanced tourism experience was a core theme in his presentation to ATF media.
“This year we will focus less on visitor arrivals and more on achieving quality tourism targets,” he explained.
“Our strategy for international markets will position the kingdom as a quality leisure destination through Thainess.”
He defined “quality” as measured by visitor expenditure, average length of stay and the overall delivery of a valuable visitor experience.
Compared with 2015, when the country earned B2.23 trillion in tourism (B1.44 trillion international tourism and 790 billion domestic), this year TAT is forecasting tourism revenue of B2.41 trillion with B1.56 trillion earned from international tourism and 850 billion from the domestic market.
According to preliminary figures from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, Thailand attracted 29.88 million tourists in 2015, up 20 per cent on 2014.
To refresh the country’s travel options in global markets, the TAT governor presented a strategy to work with neighbouring countries to promote “Two Countries One Destination” packages.
“We will emphasise connectivity with Myanmar, Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam,” he said.
Overland trips will be promoted under the tagline “Crossing 2 Checkpoints, Travelling in 2 Countries” by initially combining historical attractions in both Thailand and Cambodia.
The initiative identifies attractions such as Phanom Rung Historical Park in Buri Ram, Village of Elephants and Ban Tha Sawang Silk-weaving Village in Surin, Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Bantay Srei/Bayon and Ta Phrom, Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaeo, Pha Mo E Dang in Si Sa Ket province.
“The tour has been designed in a way that allows visitors to fully use new cross-border highways and international border checkpoints,” the governor explained.
Supporting overland travel initiatives, TAT recently sponsored a “Mega Caravan to Asean” that introduced media and travel trade representatives from Asia to the world of road travel that links Thailand, Lao PDR, Vietnam to Cambodia.
On the introduction of the ASEAN Economic Community, earlier this month, Dr Yuthasak noted it would help to promote travel throughout the region, improve accessibility via highways and low-cost airlines and enable tour operators to introduce their clients to new destinations in ASEAN.
Dr Yuthasak stressed the importance of the up-coming Thailand Travel Mart Plus, or TTM+ 2016, due to be hosted in Chiang Mai. The mart will position the city as a tourism hub for North Thailand and the border regions of Myanmar and Lao PDR.
Themed ‘Smile with Us’ TTM+ 2016 will be held June 8-10, at the Chiang Mai International Exhibition and Convention Centre.
Registration for buyers and sellers is now open. For details, visit ThailandTravelMartPlus.com.
Thailand has a strong presence at this year’s ATF with 69 Thai exhibitors, 15 with the TAT and 54 independently, exhibiting at TRAVEX, the ATF’s travel mart component.