Thailand’s leading travel trade show, Thailand Travel Mart Plus 2017 came to an end on a positive note of community upliftment and regional growth.
Held in the northern Thailand city of Chiang Mai, Thailand Travel Mart Plus 2017 (TTM+) concluded successfully. Both Thailand and the Greater Mekong Subregion found a platform at this year’s edition of TTM+, which was held in Chiang Mai for the second consecutive time. From June 14-16, the Chiang Mai International Exhibition and Convention Centre (CMECC) saw hundreds of buyers and sellers representing hotels, attractions, event venue organisations, and tour groups, among others, attend the event from all over the world to network and promote their tourism products and services.
‘Delivering Unique Experiences’ was the theme of this year’s TTM+, with a highlight of cultural and gastronomic aspects of the heritage of Northern Thailand. The Greater Mekong Subregion was also in focus, with attendance by 362 sellers from Thailand and the region. With an attendance of 423 buyers from 56 countries, the main markets remained China, India, Russia, Europe and the United Kingdom (UK). There were also buyers from eastern European countries, Latin America and South Africa, with over 49.8 pc of total buyers being first time visitors.
The Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, General Tanasak Patimapragorn inaugurated TTM+ and spoke briefly on the unique attributes of the country that makes it stand out as a tourist destination. The event, through a knowledge session on the first day, aimed at establishing itself as a knowledge base for the participants, with community based tourism, crisis management in tourism, culinary tourism and the digital economy. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, sports and tourism Minister for Thailand stated how community experiences were getting increasingly important for the country, and stated that the country had 264 community-based tourism projects now and would be adding another 99 in the course of the next year.
Mason Florence, chairman of the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Academy, highlighted Thailand’s gastronomic prowess. “Worldwide, Thailand is recognised for its street food. Bangkok is one city that has been extensively covered yet there is much more. Another thing to note is that chefs agree it to be a place that is open to exploration and experimentation. This makes the place an experimental ground for chefs to work their magic,” said Florence, referring to a number of new-age restaurants and fine dining establishments that have come up in the country.
Community is crucial
Wattanavrangkul shared the importance of inclusivity in the tourism sector: “Community based tourism is extremely important for the future of tourism in a sustainable and equal manner. By offering unique cultural and gastronomic experiences, local communities can ensure a way to help achieve wealth distribution.” She also shared how Thailand is adopting practices from its neighbouring countries, and pushed for the growth of the region.
The pre and post-tours associated with the travel mart had been designed to showcase a number of Royal Projects, Northern Thai museums, restaurants, community-based products and heritage sites. Live art and crafts, where locals made heritage indigenous products, in the venue of TTM+ 2017 enthralled visitors, who were given a chance to participate in the making of these traditional crafts, and thus had an educational experience. Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said, “We are very pleased to see this display proving to be so popular. These products reflect our commitment to ensure that the benefits of tourism trickle down to the very grassroots of society.”
Negombo, Sri Lanka