Director, Tourism Authority of Thailand,
Thailand is gradually expanding operations in India in order to allure the cross-section of traveller tribes. From being a traditionally popular tourist spot, Thailand has come a long way to now be hailed as a key MICE, luxury and wedding destination.
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has attracted record number of Indian tourists in 2015. What are the numbers till now this year? What are your expectations for the coming year?
In 2015, the total number of arrivals from India was 1,069,149. In 2016, from January to September, the number of arrivals from India is 895,880. We are expecting the number to go up by 12 pc in 2016 which means 1.2 million Indian visitors are projected to visit Thailand.
Please share with us more about your new campaign, ‘A Luxury Showcase’. What is the special strategy?
To further promote Thailand as a luxury destination, TAT recently organised the Amazing Thailand Luxury Roadshow in four cities – Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Delhi and Kolkata. Around 10 luxury service providers and representatives from the very best boutique and luxury hotels, resorts and airlines, and premium travel agents from Thailand were present to showcase and promote their products in India.
Apart from this, TAT has associated itself with luxury activities like partnering with prestigious polo and golf tournaments, vintage car rallies, popular plays, luxury magazines, TV shoots etc.
TAT also organised a luxury FAM trip for top agents in India who visited Thailand and got an opportunity to experiences luxury services like private transfers, luxury yachts and high-end hotels, resorts and villas.
Destination wedding in Thailand is now one of the hottest trends among Indians; what are the new areas being developed to lure more wedding and honeymoon travellers? In one of the reports TAT has projected huge growth in Indian weddings and honeymoons taking place in Thailand. Please elaborate on that as well.
Thailand’s proximity to India, value for money, world class accommodation, beautiful beaches, exceptional hospitality services and availability of essentials like Indian vegetarian and Jain food, priests, henna artists etc are some of the reasons that affirm the a dream wedding turns into reality in Thailand.
On an average, Thailand hosts more than 300 Indian weddings annually and the numbers are growing year on year.
To lure more Indian weddings and celebrations to Thailand, TAT is offering several incentives for the wedding couples, like hosting a cultural performance, organising a welcome procession etc. To encourage travel agents and wedding planners to promote Thailand as a top wedding destination, TAT is organising wedding symposiums and wedding FAM trips in Thailand as well.
The choice for a wedding in Thailand ranges from pristine beaches of Khao Lak, Koh Samui, Phuket, Krabi, Pattaya and Hua Hin, to lush green mountains of Chiang Mai and Khao Yai or a city and riverside wedding in Bangkok.
Would you like to share your thoughts on the campaign ‘Green Season Tourism’ focusing on less busy months from May to September?
To encourage travel to Thailand during the green season, TAT does joint ads with several agents to promote special packages to Thailand with great deals and discounts. From mid-June to August, Thailand Grand Sale is organised every year, with shops and departmental stores offering fantastic discounts on clothes, jewellery, electronic goods, hotels, flights, activities and much more. Departmental stores and shopping outlets offer discounts ranging from 10 to 80 pc. This lures people to travel to the shopping paradise that Thailand is.
As the Queen’s birthday falls in August, the month is designated as ‘ladies’ month’ where women travelling to Thailand can enjoy special deals in hotels, shopping, spas etc. This is done to encourage women vacationers to travel to Thailand.
All super luxury brands are available in the world class malls in Thailand. HNI travellers can head to Thailand for luxury shopping at a much more reasonable price than anywhere else.
In August, many golf courses in Hua Hin also have special discounted green fees for golfers.
After the sad demise of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, how is Thailand recovering? Is it affecting tourism?
Thailand recently completed the one month mourning period in remembrance of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej and things are back to normal now in the kingdom. TAT wants to assure foreign visitors and tourists that Thai people remain as warm and hospitable as ever, with cultural attractions and facilities for tourists all in place. Furthermore, most cultural, traditional and MICE events will still go on with some adjustments for appropriateness. Otherwise, it is business as usual with the mourning period having no impact on travel plans and tours.
All bars and nightclubs are operating as per normal schedule. However, loud outdoor celebrations and music are being kept low key.
Thailand is a popular destination for Indians; what are the new spots or services in line for Indians to explore?
First time travellers from India always like to go to Bangkok and Pattaya. The repeat visitors prefer to visit Phuket, Samui, Krabi and Chiang Mai. Hua Hin, Pattaya, Rayong, Phuket, Khao Lak are the favourite destinations for weddings. Samui and Krabi are popular among honeymooners and couples, and for bachelorette parties. Koh Chang, Chiang Rai, Khao Yai and Trang are the new destinations that are very recently becoming popular among Indians.
Is it time for film tourism in Thailand to take another big leap? Is there any new plan to bring more of Bollywood and Indian Regional films?
Many Bollywood, regional films and commercials are shot in Thailand on a regular basis. As many as 87 Indian films were shot in Thailand just this year. Almost 700 Indian films have been shot in Thailand since 2010. This is because Thailand offers exotic locations, sandy beaches, amazing rock formations, limestone cliffs and mountains carpeted with lush green forests overlooking the playful blue waters of the sea. Thailand is truly blessed with extraordinary natural beauty. Moreover, permission to shoot is easily obtainable. We intend to bring more India films shooting in Thailand and facilitate their production.
With Indian market growing in leaps and bounds, are there other big plans or projects in the pipeline?
We will promote Thailand as a preferred destination targeting medium to high-end segments in cities beyond Indian metros. We will expand our marketing promotions in tier II and tier III cities focusing good air connectivity between India and Thailand. This will boost Indian outbound traveller numbers to Thailand in a great way.