The ITB, held March 8-12, saw HRH Princess Ubolratana visit the Phuket booth at the show, with Thai Tourism & Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul and Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Yuthasak Supasorn present for the unveiling of the “Andaman One For All” campaign, unifying the tourism efforts of Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi.
The One For All was formalised with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by Phuket Governor Chockchai Dejamornthan, Phang Nga Governor Pakapong Thawiwat and Krabi Governor Panit Boonlert.
“As this is the biggest travel fair in the world, it is a key place to learn the tourism policies of governments for other countries. For example, in Myanmar the private sector is developing island tourism and Phuket is invited to join those efforts. We can learn from how these other places are being developed and adapt these strategies for us,” said Gov Chockchai.
Anoma Vongyai, Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Phuket office, noted, “Russian and German tourists are among the top five (nationalities) to visit Phuket, and the TAT’s aim here is to focus on the environment.
“Hotel operators need to adapt to the changing demands of tourists, and European tourists focus on green tourism, including CSR (corporate social responsibility) efforts,” she said.
“Specifically, the TAT is targeting higher-spending tourists, such as those in the wedding, marina and sports markets, and we believe that the ITB will boost the number of those types of tourists to Phuket.”
Somboon Jirayut, of the Phuket Merlin Hotel in Phuket Town, added, “More tourists have been coming from Europe recently, so we joined this fair.
“There are now more flights from Europe and the Middle East to Phuket, and especially bringing more tourists from Germany, Scandinavia, Russia and Italy – and we expect more from Eastern Europe now that the TAT has opened an office in Prague, in the Czech Republic.”
Sathirapong Na Takuatoong, President of Phuket Tourist Association (PTA), told The Phuket News that the Phuket delegation to the ITB represented a total of 28 tourism and travel organisations, and hotel and tour operators.
“The ITB is the biggest tourism travel trade market in the world, and we have been coming here for more than 10 years. The PTA, along with operators from hotels and tour agencies, come here every year with the support of the Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation (PPAO, or OrBorJor),” he explained.
“More Europeans are coming to Phuket every year, especially in the high season, and they are branching out to expand their holidays to other places in Krabi and Phang Nga.
“I believe this year tourism from Europe to Phuket and other areas along the Andaman Coast will increase by 5-10% this coming year,” Mr Sathirapong said.
“The ‘One For All’ MoU is to support development of the tourism sector among these provinces, to unite and co-ordinate efforts to develop and promote tourism among the three key provinces of Phuket Phang Nga and Krabi.
“For example, we can co-ordinate campaigns at the ITB Berlin in Asia at Singapore or with roadshows in other important source markets, such as China, Russia and Central Eastern Europe.
“Together this will increase the total revenue generated by tourism to the Andaman region,” Mr Sathirapong said.