The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has decided to adopt a simplified “A-B-C Strategy” to promote emerging tourist destinations by creating inter-linked, theme-related travel routes that better distribute visitor flows nationwide.
Speaking at the launch of Thailand Travel Mart Plus (TTM+) 2019, Tanes Petsuwan, TAT Deputy Governor for Marketing Communications, said that this year’s TTM+ 2019 is being held under the theme of ‘New Shades of Emerging Destinations’, a continuation of long-standing TAT efforts to promote emerging destinations, create jobs and distribute revenue countrywide sustainability. He said Thailand is now offering a choice of 55 emerging destinations to visitors seeking exciting new experiences in both international and domestic markets. In 2018, these destinations recorded 6 million (6,223,183) trips by foreign tourists, a growth of +4.95 per cent over the last year. Under the theme of “New Shades of Emerging Destinations”, the TTM+ 2019 has attracted a total participation of 351 buyers, 371 sellers, and around 130 international and domestic media.
Tanes also said the entire concept of positioning Thailand as a ‘Preferred Destination’ is designed around the concept of offering quality products and services to travellers through Unique Local Experiences while balancing quantity versus quality and marketing versus management. As the briefing is held on the World Environmental Day, the Deputy Governor added “Accordingly, responsible tourism is what we will emphasise from now on to achieve that goal. The key will be to manage those numbers and inculcate a higher level of environmental consciousness across the entire industry.
In line with the said policy and concept, the A-B-C strategy has been adopted to ensure both clarity and simplicity:
A – Additional: Linking major and emerging cities: Connect major destinations to nearby emerging cites. For example, in the North, tourists can travel by car within an hour to Lamphun and Lampang from Chiang Mai. Likewise, on the Eastern Seaboard, Pattaya can be linked to Chanthaburi and Trat in the East.
B – Brand New: Promoting new potential emerging cities: Some popular destinations can be individually promoted thanks to their strong identity and positioning. For example, Buri Ram in the Northeast has a rich Khmer heritage and is also becoming a regional hub for domestic and global sports events since the opening of the Chang Arena and Chang International Circuit.
C – Combined: Combining emerging cities together: Some emerging cities can be promoted in combination due to their proximity, shared histories and civilisations. For example, Sukhothai with Phitsanulok and Kamphaeng Phet would make an outstanding historical route while Nakhon Si Thammarat and Phatthalung are grouped for enriched Southern civilisation.
Some of these emerging cities are already seeing arrivals of international tourists in the past few years:
- Sukhothai: This place is a magnet for history-buffs, as it was the first capital of the Kingdom and the Sukhothai Historical Park is acclaimed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This destination has become increasingly popular with French tourists.
- Chiang Rai: Since the globally-publicised cave-rescue of the ‘Wild Boars’ youngsters, this northernmost province has become the most visited emerging city. Extremely popular with Chinese visitors, Chiang Rai is enriched with both cultural gems and natural wonders such as the White and Blue Temples, as well as Phu Chi Fah.
- Trat: Trat is a rising beach-hideaway destination for island hoppers especially young Europeans, led by the Germans. Popular islands include Ko Chang and Ko Kut.
- Nong Khai: This place, on the Mekong River, is popular with border-crossing Laotians and foreign tourists. A gateway city to the Mekong countries, it is on the same route is Udon Thani, which boasts the Ban Chiang Archaeological Site, a World Heritage Site since 1992.
Tanes stated that some emerging destinations expected to become more popular in future, such as Mae Hong Son, Lampang and Trang. In 2018, the Thai tourism industry recorded a total of 38 million international arrivals, up by 7.54 per cent, generating an estimated 62 billion USD up by 9.63 per cent over 2017.
India Outbound to Thailand
The top five source markets were China with more than 10 million arrivals, Malaysia, South Korea, Lao PDR and India, while ASEAN for the first time exceeded 10 million visitors in 2018. Tourism Authority of Thailand India office is doing everything in its capacity to reach its target and at the same time increase quality tourists that include first-time travellers, senior citizens as well as millennial who are seeking luxury.
Speaking to India Outbound magazine, Isra Stapanaseth, Director of Tourism Authority of Thailand, New Delhi said, “We are trying hard to work on tourist awareness, spread out the news on whatever TAT has done in terms of marketing to more and more tier II and tier III cities. We also have competitors that are also doing well in terms of budget, marketing plans and themes. So we have to adjust through the currency transition, analyse the market, use our research data to adapt the tourism strategy. Also, we need to work on our services, like management and even Thai people need to understand Indian behaviour so that they can understand the tourist to welcome them as a team.”
Isra further added, “Indians who had been to Thailand, as the repeat visitors, they would be looking for new places. We would like to pitch these new shades to them. But for the first time travellers, who are not aware of Thailand, we want to showcase the main cities like Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket and even Chiang Mai as these are very easy to access and convenient for them. We are trying to make things more consumer friendly and safe, avoid fraudulent activities by fake tour operators. The authorised agents are monitored by TAT officials so that they maintain their standards.”
Yuthasak Supasorn, the Governor of Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said, “This year’s theme reflects a strong continuation of our long-standing strategy to promote our emerging destinations with the aim of creating jobs and distributing revenue nationwide, from major cities to local communities, while creating sustainability by balancing the number of visitors to the destinations.”
It is interesting to note that the Tourism Authority of Thailand will be celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2020. Commenting on that, Yuthasak concluded, “As we begin the countdown to celebrating the 60th anniversary of TAT in 2020, it would be fair to say that the Thai tourism industry is on the cusp of a new era. This year’s TTM is packed with new ideas, new destinations and new topics of discussion all designed to set the ball rolling. We expect it will meet with a good response.”